3 AP cancellations appall language, math teachers

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.

“It’s sacrilegious,” Foreign Language Department Head Javier Zaragoza said. “It is the erosion of the intellectual world as we knew it in the 19th and 20th century.”

“An AP that is perfectly dignified and beautiful has to be taken away for financial reasons?” French teacher Simona Ghirlanda said. “We are not businessmen. We are educators.”

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.

“It is a very abrupt decision on the part of the College Board that has shocked all French teachers,” 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.

“It definitely was a bomb being dropped,” Chenier said.

Like the teachers of the other dropped courses, Chenier felt apprehensive about the future of the program.

“I worry very much that kids might be less inclined to pursue Latin if there are less AP options,” Chenier said. “We’re an AP school.”

Math teacher Jacob Hazard also sees the loss of AP status as a potential threat to computer science at the school.

“There are a lot of students who like computer science but they also want the AP on their transcripts,” Hazard said. “This may hurt my computer science enrollment.”

Teachers are also feeling personal loss.

“It’s very disappointing to me because I really loved the AB course,” Hazard said.

Chenier is disappointed that he will only teach AP Latin Literature once.

“It is so nourishing,” Ghirlanda said. “It is so culturally valuable that to me it is a shame, it is a real shame that they would cut it off.”

Chenier sees this as not just an in-house issue, but as a problem for the classics community.

“I don’t think it threatens our program as much as it threatens others,” Chenier said. “For Latin overall, it’s a big issue.”

The e-mail said that the College Board’s commitment to Latin would intensify, which Chenier found amusing.

“They’re talking about their commitment intensifying as they’re cutting your program,” he said.

Ghirlanda also noted this inconsistency in the e-mail.

“It’s like, ‘We want to build a beautiful house, a palace, and we want to do marble floors, but to do this we can’t do the roof,” Ghirlanda said.

All the teachers see the cancellations as opportunities to create their own curriculums.

“I’m heartbroken about it, but it’s not over for us,” 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.

“It could conceivably be the rebirth of courses that are for the sake of learning and not for the sake of AP,” he said.