AP classes and the Florida Educational System
By Autar Kaw

A View
February 1, 2007
It is encouraging to see that Florida is #1 in the number of students
that take the AP classes. I want to add three points to this news.

First, as a parent of a college student, I would encourage students to
take AP classes in the following courses: History, Psychology, US
Government, and Economics as these are the courses where most
public universities herd the students like cattle into classrooms as
large as 200 to 500 students. With so many students, you will find
most professors can only afford to lecture and then give 4 to 5
multiple choice question tests in the semester that are mostly recall of
information. What do you gain from such regurgitation of knowledge
when a university course should have components that are creative
and learning-oriented such as classroom discussion, writing, graded
homework and essay tests? Such components are virtually impossible
to incorporate in such large enrollment courses, and I have first hand
knowledge that these components are highly emphasized in the high
school AP classes.

Second, we always hear about the low rankings of Florida education
system. The one that we hear most about is the rank of 45 amongst
states in high school graduation rates. Although true, there are other
measures where we have made progress. According to the 2005
report written by the National Task force of Public Education, Florida is
in the upper 50% in the following categories: #24 in 4th grade
reading proficiency, #25 in high school readiness for college, #16 in
share of average family income to pay for in-state public university
expenses, and #6 in share of youth who participate in after-school

Third, I find it troubling that we continue to show educational statistics
that are race based. It serves no purpose other than discourage
races who do not do well in such examinations. The true discriminator
is poverty and not race. If we calculated statistics based on family
income, we would be able to find better solutions to our educational
problems. Yes, we have a long way to go; we should keep having high
expectations of our students at school and home, and attract the best
to become our teachers.

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