Does the Wet Suit You

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Road Kill Stew 2.0

By JJ Gaspaarotti

The school board has once again dragged out that bubbling cauldron of road kill stew they call a calendar change to see if we’ll swallow it after all. This time they’re trying a two-step approach of smaller portions seasoned with an excuse of the need for Advanced Placement testing prep time.

It is hard to understand how the test preparation needs of high school students enrolled in the AP program should affect the calendar for elementary and middle school students. Even harder if you harbor any doubts about the efficacy of the AP program.

The AP program was started in 1955 so geniuses wouldn’t be held back by the rest of us dullards and could graduate from college in less than four years. Today, 40 percent of high school students are enrolled in the AP program. That is a whole lot of geniuses.

Many criticize the AP programs for only teaching to the test, leaving little time for critical thinking and learning skills.

The pressure and stress participating in these AP classes places on the students could be a factor in 16 percent of Laguna Beach eleventh graders considering suicide in the past 12 months.

Only 5 percent of college students graduate in less than four years. Most colleges want students to have the four-year college experience and do not accept AP classes for college credit. With so many students having AP classes on their high school transcripts, their value is lost in the admissions shuffle.

It may be that the only clear winners in the AP testing program are those associated with the tests and test preparation.

Schools that do not participate in the AP program have the time and resources to create special programs that do make their graduates stand apart. Laguna Beach High School’s theater arts program comes to mind. Imagine how great that program could be if we weren’t devoting time and resources on an AP program that has lost its way.

What are parents supposed to do about day care on all those no school days sprinkled throughout the new calendar? Most students with two parents have two parents who work. If they live with one parent, they have one parent who works. There are lots of summer daycare programs for kids but not so much for all these little breaks.

With a per student budget the size Laguna has, we should be leading the way, not following the pack, in providing the best education possible for our students. Maybe we need more critical thinking and learning skills on the school board.


J.J. Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11 years old. He has loved it ever since.

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