Economics, government subjects should merge into single year-long course

March 10, 2009 — by Emily Chen and Girish Swaminath

As part of a high-achieving academic environment, Saratoga High students find the thought of a fellow classmate not knowing the political party of our president unfathomable. The recent ground-breaking and historical election aside, however, it wouldn’t have been too difficult to find a student who was ignorant of the political affiliation of our former president George Bush.

With the economy collapsing around us and companies announcing new layoffs daily, it seems like knowledge of why such events are occurring should be ingrained into our curriculum. After all, these are the issues that will be affecting us on a daily basis when we graduate into the real world, often much more so than AP European History or AP Calculus.

Both economics and U.S. government are required classes needed to graduate, yet even though they are apparently important enough to be considered essential before we attend college, they’re restricted to a mere 18 weeks each in senior year. Is that enough?

As citizens of America, students should be aware of the political environment that runs our country, as these are things that are guaranteed to affect them when we grow up. For example, knowing political party platforms and their benefit to the commonfolk of America is extremely significant. On the other hand, the practicality of deriving integrals and knowing Avogadro’s rule is questionable, but every individual without exception will be affected by one law or bill at some point in his or her life.

Issues such as recalls, referendums and propositions are likely to happen in any student’s lifetime, as evidenced by the recent Proposition 8 controversy. Additionally, pressing matters such as the energy crisis and global warming are dilemmas that need to be dealt with sooner rather than later, and therefore learning about them is key to finding a solution.

Similarly, the way the economy is run affects how we invest our money, what kind of salaries we will earn and what is going to happen to us when we retire. Real-life consequences to events are guaranteed to happen to us. So why is it that such crucial information is shoved down our throats in a rushed 18 weeks right at the end of our high school career?

With these practical classes a year long, students would be able to delve more deeply into these vital subjects. As it is, teachers have to cram an excessive amount of material in too short a time. Especially for seniors during first semester, government and economics can be burdensome.

The logistics of adding another full-length class to the curriculum would be difficult, but one suggestion is to include both classes into one integrated class. In this way, students will get a comprehensive view on both, in addition to how they relate to each other. By senior year, most students are ready to check out of high school and into what they believe is the “real world,” yet they lack a strong foundation in knowledge regarding issues concerning our economy and government. Our economy and our government are irrevocably intertwined, and learning about both in the same classroom setting for one year would undoubtedly be beneficial to students.