My name is Haniebal Gebrie and I am a graduating senior from E.L. Haynes High School. An AP class can change the life of every child, but less than 30% of black and brown students are currently enrolled. As someone who has taken 3 AP classes, I’ve experienced the benefits first-hand. While at first I doubted my ability to do well in these college-level courses, I am grateful to have that exposure to rigor. Schools should make at least one AP class mandatory. When students do not take AP classes they are less likely to believe in their academic ability and are not as prepared for college as their peers.
A majority of college freshmen are unprepared for college and, as a result, they have to spend time in remediation classes. Remediation classes often cost money and take time away from students working on their major. According to a 2019 article from the Hechinger Report, “one in four, show up on campuses each fall not ready to take college courses in math or English” (Marcus, Jon, et al). These students are taking high-school-level classes in college, because they didn’t take advantage of or weren’t given access to rigorous curriculum, like AP, in high school. Furthermore, minority students make up more than their fair share of these courses. The Public Policy Institute of California explains that “Latino, African-American, and low-income students are overrepresented in developmental courses,” a fact that can be tackled if we pushed students of color in the way they deserve. Too many students going to college are not ready for the classes that they are going to be taking. If they had taken AP classes in high school they would have been more prepared for the rigor of college. Thus, schools should make at least one AP class mandatory for students.
Did you know that as a black male, I am more likely to be suspended than I am to be enrolled in an AP class? According to USA Today, “white students are about twice as likely as black and Hispanic students to be enrolled in at least one AP class [and] black students are 2.7 times more likely to be suspended.” This is because the school system treats students differently based on race. The current system is failing students of color. Black and brown students benefit the most from expanded AP classes because it is an eye opener for them in the way that they see their academic self-esteem. An article by The New York Times shows the benefits of AP classes for minority students “by sending a message to students that they are capable” (Tugend). For these reasons, schools should make at least one AP class mandatory for graduation, which would better prepare students for college and serve students of color by encouraging academic achievement.
Minority students deserve the same opportunities as their white peers. Nicole Asamoah, from Medium, states the “Norm for black students and other minorities is to ditch out on AP classes because it is out of their league.” Out of our league? Not quite. Amy Stuart Wells states the practice of labeling “gifted” students when young is largely done by race. This labeling leads to white students getting more access to honors and advanced placement classes. If AP classes become part of the required courses, black and brown students will see this curriculum as attainable and be less likely to ditch these courses.
Making at least one AP course mandatory would better help students of color so that, when they go to college, they don’t have to waste time taking remedial classes. Most importantly, they will learn to believe in themselves. In order for this to be enforced there should be board meetings where school leaders attend and hear from students (current and alumni), parents, and teachers about the benefits AP courses would have on the students now and later on in the future.