May 4 2016

SCHOOLS: New AP Computer Science Class Despite Objection to AP Classes: Report

Piedmont Unified School District School Board Meeting –

On Wednesday April 27th at 7:00 p.m., the Piedmont Unified School District met for a regularly scheduled School Board meeting. The meeting agenda is based on proposals and questions from previous meetings and concerns brought up by the citizens of the Piedmont community about the schools. During the meeting the School Board leaves room for community members, such as the Piedmont High School civics students to voice their concerns about issues at Piedmont High School. In the beginning of the meeting different leaders from community groups such as the Association of Piedmont Teachers and the Student Representative give short updates about things their groups need or are planning to do in the school.

 The meeting covered several different topics but the one that drew the most interest from the community was the reform to the elementary education schedule. Ms. Carol Cramer, Ms. Anne Dolid and Mr. Michael Corritone, the principals of the three elementary schools came to the Board meeting to discuss the changes in scheduling for the elementary school kids over the next couple of years.

One major change that the parental community was worried about was the reduction in art and music time at the elementary level. The traditional once a week art and music time is being replaced with time for technology every week, while art and music will be alternating each week.

The loss of time for the arts was a big concern among the parent community, Ms. Auban Willats was at the meeting because of her concerns about losing time for the arts. She said “ I thought the question of why technology gets 40-50 minutes every week, but vocal music and art have to alternate was an important one. I have spoken to many of my high school students who remember art as one of their favorite times of the day.” Many other parents spoke up at the meeting as well, saying that they were thankful for the work that the principals had done, but they were feeling that the new schedule was pushed on them suddenly and needed more time to be critiqued and looked at by the parent community.

At the meeting, a new AP Computer Science class was approved for the High School. Ms. Munoz and Mr. Mattix presented it to the board, informing them that Piedmont High School would be one of the first high schools in the nation to have this type of class. The class focused on app development and more on the grading of a student portfolio instead of tradition AP style grading. One point highlighted by both presenters were the number of students who were interested in taking this class as well as the significant number of girls who were interested in taking the class. Females in the technological world have long been under represented and everyone on the School Board seemed in favor of supporting a class that would benefit females in technology.

One question brought up by Board member Richard Raushenbush was, if Piedmont High School should be offering more AP classes or any AP classes at all. Mr. Raushenbush brought up how AP classes boost the highest GPA that a student can have at Piedmont that is published to colleges and adds more stress for students, which is something the Board has been trying to decrease. The Board agreed to put that topic on the agenda for the next meeting.

Lastly, the new math classes were brought up in the meeting, Math 2, Math 2B/3, and the Math A bridge summer course. These are the new math classes for the Common Core track that the lower grades have been following since middle and elementary school. The bridge course Math A is a summer course so kids who are behind on the track can advance. Ms. Auban Willats was also in the meeting to show support for the new math program.

Report by Sierra Singer, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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