Letter: Keep the Traditional 6×6 Model for LBHS

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I’m excited about my freshman’s next year at Laguna Beach High School.

But the school district’s plan to switch from two six-course semesters (6×6) to two condensed four-course semesters (4×4)? Not so much.

Tip: I made up “6×6’” as branding spin for the “old school’ traditional two semesters of six-period year-long instruction. I figured the old school model needed some catchy branding so I came up with 6×6 to combat 4×4.

Principal Jason Alleman tried to make 4×4 sound good: smaller/less classes, student choice flexibility. It sounds like spin. I’m concerned, as are 75 to 100 students and parents, SchoolPower and PTA members who joined me at LBUSD corner on Friday.

Cramming year-long courses into one semester like college is bad for most kids. These aren’t college students. Most kids’ brains aren’t fully developed and aren’t ready for college-level modalities. Many kids struggled during condensed COVID-inspired 2020-21 schedule. This is a repeat.

Eight courses a year (4×4) instead of 12 (6×6) means students miss out on most electives. Result: less choice, not more. How can district officials tell students and parents they’ll have “more” choice? It doesn’t add up. Basic Math: 4×4 is less than 6×6:

4+4= 8

6+6= 12 (Which gives greater choice?)

Athletes beware! The high school requires athletes choose PE/Sport as a last period. In 4×4, that’s a quarter of the class schedule. With 6×6 it’s a sixth.

AP students beware! Those prepping for AP Tests like Math, English or other AP/Honors classes in first semester have almost a full semester with no instructive reinforcement before the exam in May and June. Cramming year-long courses into one semester leaves students less time to read and learn. This also means less depth in advanced subjects.

Math, Sciences, Foreign Languages, Band and others benefit greatly from continued, year-long reinforcement. Boiling down a year’s worth of study into one semester brings lapses and challenges students from other districts won’t face.

University of California hopefuls have even less time for electives. After a year of reduced COVID-19 scheduling things become even more dire for our kids. UC requirements in years: English: 4; Math: 3; History, Science & Foreign Language: 2; Visual & Performing Arts; College-Prep Elective: 1.

Athletes already strapped for time likely won’t have time for Drama, Band, Fine Arts, Ceramics, Dance or other electives, especially if they need Foreign Language. Laguna’s great Arts programs & attendance could also suffer.

Laguna’s students already reeling from more than a year of COVID scheduling will be at an even greater disadvantage if the High School changes from traditional 6×6 to 4×4. AP Students and Athletes will have it even worse.

Please listen to our kids and parents. We’ve had four schedule changes in three years many didn’t want. Changing again to 4×4 extends COVID-like scheduling another year. Let’s move back to a traditional model for our kids and stick to the tried-and-true. The proven, year-long 6×6 educational model is best for our kids. We won’t regret it!

Clay Leeds, Laguna Beach

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