AP Government an unnecessary change

March 9, 2014 — by Jonathan Young

 It’s early August and sleepy-eyed students walk toward the Small Gym. Falcon Fest 2014 has begun: Students are eager to learn what classes they’ll have with friends, but are at the same time dreading the start of a new school year.

 It’s early August and sleepy-eyed students walk toward the Small Gym. Falcon Fest 2014 has begun: Students are eager to learn what classes they’ll have with friends, but are at the same time dreading the start of a new school year.

A senior looks at his class schedule and smiles. AP Lang? Check. AP Calculus BC? Check. Physics Honors? OK. He glances to see yet another AP class on his already filled schedule: AP Government.

Next year’s senior class will be the first to feature a new combined Government and Economics class. One teacher will teach the year-long AP Government class and economics will be integrated throughout the year. This change makes sense, but is it really necessary?

Schools like Monta Vista and Cupertino High already offer AP Government, so it is understandable why we would want to make this change — a Cold War-esque AP arms race, if you will. Students should only take

APs in subjects they are interested in, and there is concern that AP Government will be seen as an “easy AP,” which will result in many seniors electing to take the course.

AP Government’s addition to the curriculum will simply reinforce the school’s mentality of “the more APs the better.” Adding AP Government promotes the idea of cramming as many AP classes as possible into one’s schedule despite lack of interest in the subject.

Government is a necessary class for graduation and since all students take it, students are more likely to “upgrade” to the AP version. The “default” class will be seen as AP Government and the regular class will be seen as less, similar to how students view AP U.S. History compared to regular U.S. History.

If there are fewer regular classes, future students are encouraged to take the AP class because all their peers did the same.

The pressure from parents to make another AP class may have been a factor that caused this change. Parents naturally want the best for their children and another AP class will beef up their students’ college resumes. Adding another AP class could also potentially increase the school’s national rankings.

If the school offers the AP version of a class, parents will be concerned that colleges would look down upon a student who didn’t take the AP. If the regular class is the only one offered, then there is nothing for colleges to look down upon.

Here, students are constantly trying to be as good as their peers. Instead of students taking advanced classes out of genuine interest, they are taking them to be seen as smart among their friends and to pad their college applications.

New AP classes should not be unnecessarily added because it defeats the purpose of an AP class. AP classes are supposed to be college level courses but will AP Government really be up to that standard? Next year, we could very well see a high number of students taking five or six AP classes and if this is done, it is easy to tell that some of these classes are not as rigorous as college courses because most college students only take four or five classes.

AP Government’s inclusion into the curriculum may be meant to draw interest away from taking Government during the summer or online. If so, it’s the wrong reason to offer or take an AP course.

The AP-obsessed culture of the school needs to change and the installment of an AP Government will do nothing but further build this detrimental mentality.