Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Honors program for freshmen, sophs needed in rural, inner-city high schools

Imagine a place of pure mediocrity. A place with minimal course offerings, average classes and where students do only what is required rather than putting forth any sort of extra effort.

Students with potential, with intelligence lose interest in school, or worse, go unprepared to college, thinking it will be just as easy as their four years of high school.

Sadly, for students in a select group of rural communities and inner-city schools, this is a reality.

With a lack of funding, these students across Arizona are not exposed to even the mere possibility of a rigorous curriculum with honors and advanced courses, jeopardizing their own future as well as the future of this state.

It appears that in recent years, Arizona has shifted its attention in education from the more intelligent individuals to those with academic handicaps. Classes are offered in nearly every high school for those who struggle in subjects from reading to math.

Although it is important for these education disadvantages to be fixed, it seems at times as if it is at the risk of the more intelligent individuals and the courses used to benefit their particular strengths.

High schools with a lack of appropriate funding throughout Arizona eliminate advanced classes and place highly intelligent individuals who would benefit from these challenging courses into regular classes.

Such schools that do offer advanced courses do so with only a weighted designation on the student’s GPA and are typically available only to upperclassman.

While that benefits those who are able to reach that point, the system does nothing to promote advanced learning in the beginning years of high school – a crucial time to fuel educational growth.

Additionally, students who have the opportunity to take rigorous honors courses have a competitive edge over those Arizona students who do not in scholarships and university admissions.

Programs such as advanced placement and dual enrollment at a community college are highly recognized nationally and often are asked for on various applications. Advanced placement classes offer tests at the end of each course, which allow the student to also receive credit for college.

An educational problem of such proportions, affecting students across the state, is one of public concern – but is often overlooked.

The absence of such programs makes students unprepared for a college education, as they had never been challenged or given any real rigorous course work. If such a trend continues, the future of this state is at risk with the possibility of high unemployment and underqualified employees.

A system of honors classes and programs could be set up through the state, specifically targeting rural areas and inner-city schools.

A fund could be set up through the state to provide honors courses in two specific subject areas for freshmen and sophomore students. As juniors and seniors, however, they would go into a designated program, whether it is dual enrollment or advanced placement, and enroll in the specified classes they took as underclassmen.

With such an honors curriculum in place, underclassmen are still being challenged while upperclassmen have the opportunity to enroll in a prestigious and rigorous program.

Aside from state funding, each school district would have its own fund in which parents could donate through tax credit to support an expanded honors curriculum.

The education of a high school student is crucial in the future of this society. Not only should we help those with academic difficulties, but those with talents and the willingness to learn and broaden their own education.

All too often intelligent students who do not have access to a rigorous curriculum will acquire bad study skills or not learn the material necessary to enroll in a university and follow through with a degree. As such, they are risking the future of this state in addition to their own.

Potential political leaders, doctors and scientists within our generation will find an interest elsewhere and not pursue such esteemed positions simply because they were not given adequate educational tools where it was most important – in high school.

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Alllison Pilar Wiley graduated this year from Globe High School in Globe.

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