By Ariane Lange
Members of the Foreign Language and Math Departments were alarmed by the abrupt cancellation of three AP classes by the College Board.
The College Board recently announced that AP French Literature, AP Latin Literature and AP Computer Science AB will be discontinued as AP courses after the May 2009 exams, leaving teachers concerned about the futures of the programs. An e-mail from the College Board said that the classes were dropped due to decreasing enrollment. The Board will concentrate funds on other, more popular classes. The Foreign Language and Math Departments have no sure plans for how to replace the courses.
âItâs sacrilegious,âÂ Foreign Language Department HeadÂ Javier Zaragoza said. âIt is the erosion of the intellectual world as we knew it in the 19th and 20th century.â
âAn AP that is perfectly dignified and beautiful has to be taken away for financial reasons?â French teacher Simona Ghirlanda said. âWe are not businessmen. We are educators.â
This year, 15 students take the French class, 13 take the Latin class and 14 take the computer science class.
Ghirlanda said she was appalled at the decision.
âIt is a very abrupt decision on the part of the College Board that has shocked all French teachers,â Ghirlanda said.
Latin teacher Paul Chenier, who will teach AP Latin Literature next year, was shocked when he received the e-mail from the College Board. The College Board had not previously disclosed plans to cancel the class, and the e-mail was the first word any teachers had heard of it.
âIt definitely was a bomb being dropped,â Chenier said.
Like the teachers of the other dropped courses, Chenier felt apprehensive about the future of the program.
âI worry very much that kids might be less inclined to pursue Latin if there are less AP options,â Chenier said. âWeâre an AP school.â
Math teacher Jacob Hazard also sees the loss of AP status as a potential threat to computer science at the school.
âThere are a lot of students who like computer science but they also want the AP on their transcripts,â Hazard said. âThis may hurt my computer science enrollment.â
Teachers are also feeling personal loss.
âItâs very disappointing to me because I really loved the AB course,â Hazard said.
Chenier is disappointed that heÂ will onlyÂ teach AP Latin Literature once.
âIt is so nourishing,â Ghirlanda said. âIt is so culturally valuable that to me it is a shame, it is a real shame that they would cut it off.â
Chenier sees this as not just an in-house issue, but as a problem for the classics community.
âI donât think it threatens our program as much as it threatens others,â Chenier said. âFor Latin overall, itâs a big issue.â
The e-mail said that the College Boardâs commitment to Latin would intensify, which Chenier found amusing.
âTheyâre talking about their commitment intensifying as theyâre cutting your program,â he said.
Ghirlanda also noted this inconsistency in the e-mail.
âItâs like, âWe want to build a beautiful house, a palace, and we want to do marble floors, but to do this we canât do the roof,â Ghirlanda said.
All the teachers see the cancellations as opportunities to create their own curriculums.
âIâm heartbroken about it, but itâs not over for us,â Ghirlanda said.
Zaragoza said a backlash from the classics and French communities is unlikely to sway the College Board, but he did see a silver lining.
âIt could conceivably be the rebirth of courses that are for the sake of learning and not for the sake of AP,â he said.