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Graduation Requirements Force Students to Take Irrelevant Courses

Mina Orlic, Editor-in-Chief

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When students are not interested in the subject matter, they become unmotivated to actually learn…”

   Math, Science, History, English, World Language, Physical Education, and Visual and Performing Arts. These are all classes high school students are required to take. According to the official California Department of Education website, “In order to graduate from California public high schools, students must complete specified state and local graduation requirements. Local school districts have the authority and responsibility for establishing high school graduation requirements. These requirements vary among school districts” (cde.ca.gov).

   Students who know what they plan to major in, or what they plan not to major in, should not need to take certain classes once they’ve fulfilled the minimum graduation requirements needed to enter the higher education institution of their choice. By the time students hit their junior year and begin to think about college, many of them already have a handle on what subjects they like and dislike, and they take this into account when choosing their classes.

   However, we are often limited in our ability to pick classes in our areas of interest. This is because our schedules are packed full with the required “core” classes. In order to graduate, each high school student at UC High must complete their Core UC “A-G” Course Requirements. The San Diego Unified School District official website states that each student must pass and complete 6 semester credits (3 years) of History/Social Studies, 8 semester credits (4 years) of English, 6 semester credits (3 years) of Math, 6 semester credits (3 years) of Science, 4 semester credits (2 years) of a World Language [a language other than English], 2 semester credits of Visual and Performing Arts, and four semester credits (2 years) of Physical Education (sandiegounified.org).

   These required courses are only part of the obligatory minimum 44 semester credits each student is expected complete by the end of their four years in high school.  This leaves little room for electives and college classes such as Yearbook, Associated Student Body (ASB), Journalism, Band,  Engineering, Personal Growth and Communications, Administrative Justice, and so many other classes.

   According to the Innovate Public Schools website, the main reason high schools implement these requirements is to give all students the chance to apply for a four-year college: “To be eligible to enter a four-year public college (either the California State University or University of California systems), students must meet a series of course requirements called A through G (A-G). Students must take and pass the A-G course requirements – that is 15 specific high school courses with a grade of C or better” (innovateschools.com). Therefore, the first step is to change requirements at the college level.

   While the idea of general education is important and allows for a wide range of learning, depending on your major, you won’t always use the information you learn in these core classes. Senior Natalie Dhus said, “I think if [students] know their strengths, they shouldn’t be forced to take classes that won’t necessarily benefit them in the future. Instead, they should be allowed to focus on what they have a passion for so that they can develop their abilities in that area.” Dhus added, “Chemistry or History won’t exactly benefit an English major if they’d rather focus on something geared toward Humanities. They could be focusing their talents on a class they want to pursue but instead, they’re graded on their abilities to memorize facts.” Realistically, a History major doesn’t need to know how to find a derivative, and a Math major isn’t expected to write a rhetorical précis.

   When students are forced to take classes they have no interest in, it makes it harder for them to get involved in the curriculum. “It’s easier to take classes you really want to be in because it’s just something you look forward to during the day, especially depending on your teacher. If you’re required to take a class you don’t want to be in, it’s more likely you’ll doze off or distract others by trying to entertain yourself,” stated Junior Blaise Adona. When students are not interested in the subject matter, they become unmotivated to actually learn the material and they tend to misbehave in class.

    There is no denying that students should experience a wide range of learning — all students should know basics of every core subject. However, by the time students hit their junior year, they should be allowed to choose their schedule based on their likes and dislikes, because ultimately, an English or Communications major doesn’t need to know calculus and a Math major doesn’t need to know classic American literature.

    

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Graduation Requirements Force Students to Take Irrelevant Courses