By the students, for the students. We want to be relatable, and we want to accurately represent the students of HISD. Anyone can submit – see the sidebar to learn how. Powered by the HISD Student Congress.
Astrid C. Herrera, Westside, 2015
I am a senior at Westside High School, and it has truly been an honor to be part of such a prestigious school. I have always believed that it is crucial for students, especially high school students, to be responsible, independent, and intelligent enough to make the right choices.
As a senior and intern through the Genesys Works Program, I have had the privilege of having only four classes this year. Last semester, I finished my economics class, which left a spot open for me to take another class of my choice. I became an office worker for my house secretary, and I get to experience first-hand what other classes are doing throughout the class period.
One day, I had to deliver a packet to a classroom I had never been in before. When I entered the room, I was paralyzed when I saw the zoo-like environment in that class. Some students were playing games on the new HISD laptops, and others were using their phones and listening to music. I did not see any type of paper on their desks or any sign that they had possibly finished an assignment and were now “relaxing.” I was shocked and extremely upset to have encountered such a scene.
I proceeded to find the teacher in the classroom. When I finally spotted her, I could not believe myself. She was watching YouTube music videos with other students and laughing, as if she too had gone mad and forgotten the entire purpose of going to school to teach. I left the classroom as soon as I could, and while going back to the secretary, I was trying to process what I had just witnessed.
I later found out that this was a freshman Prep class. (Editor’s note: Prep classes are classes a level below Pre-AP/ AP classes, sometimes called “regular” or “academic” at other schools.) I have never been fond of Prep classes, not only because they have a bad reputation around the school, but also because I have seen how students are treated and what is expected of them and the teachers. In my entire high school career, I have only taken Pre-AP and AP classes, so it was quite shocking to see what I had seen in that classroom.
What is the real reason why some students join Prep classes? After asking some underclassmen, I found out that in most cases, they like the fact that these classes are extremely easy, often to the point that students don’t have to do their homework or classwork to pass the class. The expectations for these students are extremely low. This type of ‘separation’ between Prep, Pre-AP, and AP classes is actually causing barriers and absurd excuses. Students are literally given the option to come to school and do absolutely nothing. They are not being well-prepared for the ultimate goal that school has for students–to attend college and have a successful career. They are being taught at an extremely low level that clearly is not preparing them for college.
Taking Prep-level classes is also a way for students to make up excuses and never do their work. Some teens are finding it useful to say, “I don’t know how to do this, I’m just a prep kid.” These students are not looking forward to learning anymore- they just want to go to class and chill with their friends. Our future generation thinks that going to school and not doing any of the work will get them a high school diploma; they are not even considering attending college anymore.
Recently, in an HISD Student Congress Advocacy Committee meeting, I met a man that listened to my concern about this issue, and to worsen things, informed about a plan that is being considered. The district wants to implement a new “level” of classes– a level lower than prep/regular. I can’t even imagine the type of students that will emerge if this new plan is to come true. It upsets me to think of how low expectations some current adults have of students today. There just can’t be a lower level than prep; this would risk decreasing students’ perseverance, achievement, and critical thinking skills.
Students today are the future workers and rulers of tomorrow. We all need to be exposed to challenge, problems, and success. If the end goal of studying for 12 years is to be prepared to attend college and earn a degree to have a successful life, I believe that these levels of learning should be abolished once and for all.
I understand that not everyone is on the same level, but students will never know their highest potential unless they are exposed to higher expectations and responsibilities. We are the future of this nation. Once the current government officials, teachers, nurses, astronomers, physicians, and CEOs are gone, it is in our hands to take control and keep the world functioning. This is what current adults in control need to understand and implement in our education; the ultimate goal is success, and it’s in our hands to do everything possible to achieve it.