Patrick Henry High School

Patrick Henry High School Holds Forum to Discuss Paused Plan to Cancel Some Honors Courses

A couple of weeks ago, students learned the school was eliminating some advance and honors classes

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While a controversial plan to eliminate some honors and advanced classes at a San Diego high school is on pause, it is not off the table completely and Friday dozens of concerned parents met with district representatives to express frustrations.

More than 150 parents and district representatives gathered virtually Friday to address Patrick Henry High School's now-paused plan to eliminate eight advanced and honors classes from its offerings, including advanced English, History and biology.

Parents and students learned of the changes through an email from the school's principal, Michelle Irwin, which said the course adjustments will create a more balanced heterogeneously grouped classes, eliminate the stigma of non-weighted courses, and provide a well-balanced course offering for all students.

The advanced and honors classes are weighted, meaning they are graded on a 5.0 scale and can boost students’ grade point averages.

Advanced Placement (AP) classes, which are also weighted and can earn students college credit, were not being eliminated.

The plan caused outrage from some who see the classes as a way to stand out to colleges and said they were not given advanced notice and on Wednesday, after a student protest, the leaders of Patrick Henry High announced the changes were on pause.

Irwin said they wanted to make the changes a collaborative effort before moving forward.

Friday's forum was an opportunity for parents to meet directly with district representatives on next steps. More than 150 people attended the virtual meetings where they were divided into listening groups.

SDUSD Area Superintendent for High Schools Dr. Erin Richison said she wanted to “really listen and listen intently,” to “as many voices as possible,” and “there will be next steps.”

Parents told district representatives they felt the plan was poorly thought out. One parent said her student had “zero idea classes were being dropped.”

Another parent said the idea to drop advanced classes would lead to a worse future for students.

"Patrick Henry is going to be the starting point for dumbing down the rest of the district so that everybody – everybody gets trophies, is kinda how it seems to me.”

Dr. Jennifer Roberson, instructional support officer for SDUSD, apologized to parents who felt they were not being heard and asked them to consider three things during the forum: their hope for their student's future, what their students should know and what shifts should occur for that to happen.

Patrick Henry leaders said they are working out details for next year's classes and will have more information in the coming days.

More than 2,600 students attend Patrick Henry High School, the largest school in the San Diego Unified School District located in the Allied Gardens area of San Diego.

On the SDUSD website, the school boats "many avenues for academic challenges," including a wide range of Advanced Placement and Honors classes. The school also has a partnership with Mesa College to allow students to earn both high school and college credit through courses.

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