“Why Are We ALWAYS Cutting Money from Education?”
“Senior Year Was My Favorite Year”
“Junior Prom/Breakfast/Drive-Around/Prank/Skip Day Doesn’t Have The Same Ring To It”
“Seriously, What’s Wrong With Us?”
When I first heard about some school systems considering cutting senior year, I figured it was just a sensationalized story of a student government that decided to try something outrageous. But I just kept hearing about it, so I googled to figure out what was going on. Then I let it roll around in my head for awhile (I think the news broke at the end of February) before I decided what I really thought about it.
Basically, a state senator in Utah is looking for a way to save money and he proposed making senior year optional. After all, he claims, for many students, senior year is kind of a fluff year. Why not just send them right to college after they meet all of their requirements? After all, Sen. Chris Buttars thinks the state could eliminate 2/3 of its debt this way.
Some of the stories I read suggested that he’s not saying that schools should not have 12th grade, just that it shouldn’t be a requirement. A lot of students could finish their education in three years and be out the door and onto college.
Here’s why this is a bad idea no matter what (in my humble opinion, of course):
1. Personally, senior year was the best year of school. Junior high was…junior high. Which means it kind of stunk. Grades 9-11 were all right. I liked the activities I was in and I had good friends and I learned to drive and all of that stuff. But senior year? It was awesome! Seniors get to do so many fun things? We made a homecoming float for the parade, we went to all the games and dances, we wore t-shirts that proclaimed we were “Seniors!” and the “Class of 96!” And of course there were all of the senior events–skip day, prom, breakfast, etc. There were awards banquets and senior nights and recognitions. Sure, I understand in theory that all of this could happen during junior year…but really? Could it? It wouldn’t be the same.
2. Teenagers already have enough pressure and stress. From the time our children are small (toddlers, really), they are in activities. They play sports, join teams, are enrolled in clubs, take lessons and are always on the move. I know many kids who don’t even have time to play outside. As a society, we should be ashamed of this. Kids become who they are when they have free time and can use their imaginations and find talents they didn’t know they had (like the time I learned that I love giving all of my neighborhood friends haircuts…which was quickly followed by the time I learned how quickly the neighborhood moms could get on the phone and call my mom to report that I had given all of my neighborhood friends haircuts).
By the time they are teenagers, they have the stress of all these activities. They are striving to be the best pianist, gymnast, spelling champ, ball player and band member. They are taking required classes and some of them have jobs. The kids who had little play time when they were six have even less now that they are nearing adulthood.
It seems a little bit much to then take away an entire year of school.
3. Electives are not “fluff.” Electives help students figure out who they are and what they were created to do. I didn’t have to take an art class to graduate, but I had room for a fine arts elective so that’s what I chose. I’m glad I took it. I’m not an artist, but it was important for me to be stretched that way. I didn’t have to take a computer keyboarding class, but I chose it as an elective and that was one of the best decisions ever–I can type correctly and quickly and that saves me a lot of time. I didn’t need to take sociology or psychology my junior year, but if I hadn’t taken them, I never would have had the experience of having Mr. Stolting as a teacher and finding out how much I love both of those subjects. I took a music/keyboarding class where I learned how to write music. These classes all helped balance out my tough academic schedule. Thank goodness for that music class while I was learning trigonometry! Thank goodness for sociology (a class I loved), while I was trying to make it through physics (a class I did not love). There needs to be time for students to take electives!
4. If there’s no senior year, 16 and 17 year-olds are college bound. This seems like a bad idea. I mean, I realize that there are some very mature 17 year-olds. But I’ve also known some not very mature ones who needed that extra year. And completing all requirements to graduate may suggest a level of maturity, but that’s not all it takes! Leaving home for college is a big step and a big life change.
5. We already have cut way too much from education to save money. Even the fact that the previous sentence exists is stupid. As a society, we save money by cutting programs and teachers and resources from our children’s schools. That’s wrong.
So, that’s my take on that piece of news and possibility of dumping twelfth grade. What do you think?