Every spring, Amador Valley and Foothill high school students ask themselves: "What classes should I take next year?" or "Do I want to learn a language or an art?"
But, next year, students will have an additional problem to consider: the Pleasanton Unified School District and the Association of Pleasanton Teachers have agreed to reduce our high schools' seven-period day to cope with California's budget cuts.
The decision is a double-edged sword: while it saves the school district an estimated 448,000 dollars, eliminating the seventh period could potentially harm some of Pleasanton's brightest and most talented students in the long run.
In the past, we high school students have been allowed to choose up to seven classes per year, creating a schedule that lasts from 7 a.m. to 3:09 p.m. Now, students are restricted to attending six classes. It is often the most academic and community-involved students at Amador Valley and Foothill who need seven classes per day.
High-achieving students have been able to balance their academically rigorous schedules with electives like music, art, theater, journalism, and photography. But for these students, the six-class limit pits an Advanced Placement class against classes such as orchestra.
The elimination of the seventh period limits these students' ability to choose a well-rounded schedule, a key factor in college admissions. It prevents academic students from maximizing their potential, as they will be forced to give up some of our challenging AP classes in order to fulfill (un-weighted) graduation requirements like Physical Education.
Cutting seventh period also affects under-performing high school students. When students fail a class, they must make it up through summer school or retake the class the next year. They tend to rely on seventh period to meet the state and school district's basic graduation requirements. Without it, many may be unable to take all the necessary classes to graduate high school.
Students are not the only ones affected by the six-period strain. Foreign language and special elective teachers, who depend on large class rosters to keep their programs alive, could face layoffs once again if students feel they must give up, for instance, AP Art History for Pre-Calculus.
There are some possible remedies to the issues that come with eliminating the seven-period day. For instance, high schools could start accepting more summer community college credits to ease the burden on academic students who wish to take high-level classes.
They could also allow more athletic students to waive their P.E. requirements through extracurricular sports and relax the graduation requirements, while still in accordance with state standards.
Vivienne Chen is a graduating high school senior at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, CA.
Acknowledgements to Annie Tillis and Tyler Rhodes for their related articles in the Amadon.