Why Not Both?

By: Paige B.

     There has been a rumor floating around the junior hallway that may change schedules and plans drastically: It is very likely that the Spanish Civilization class and the MUN class will be scheduled in the same period. I was dismayed when I heard this news, and decided to speak with Mr. Bondy and Dr. Trout in an attempt to sort this mess out. And what I’ve discovered, well it’s not good news.

     As of now, Spanish Civilization and MUN will be in the same block of the schedule next year. That means it will be impossible for the rising seniors to take both classes next year. I went to Mr. Bondy to ask why this change is being made, and he replied with some excellent points. Scheduling is very challenging, especially for seniors, because the classes they take have so few people in them that it is difficult to create multiple sections. So if there is only one section, that means everyone who wants to take that class has to take it at the same time. Scheduling MUN and Spanish Civilization in the same block would open up space in people’s schedules and allow them to take additional classes. Scheduling the two classes at the same time would address a second problem too: In previous years there was significant overlap in the students who qualified and attended both trips; by forcing students to choose between trips, a greater number of students might have the opportunity to go abroad. It’s worth noting that Spanish Civilization and MUN are both capped classes, meaning only a limited number of students can be in them. Logistically, putting Spanish Civilization and MUN in the same block makes sense, but I believe that by doing so we are failing to address the true heart of the matter.

     You see, the school is growing larger each year. And with the increase in size comes an increase in students, and, in some cases an increase in curricular offerings. We have more courses and teachers than ever before. On the other hand, there is a great deal more competition because more students are vying for fewer spots in classes, on sports teams, and in theatre productions. This phenomenon is not unique to our school; it is happening in college admissions and in the job market today. So how do we walk the line between competition and equality? Some would argue it is fair to have different people go on both the MUN and Spanish trip; then more students get to go on trips. But this line of thinking excludes the students and their accomplishments. If a student works hard and earns both trips, doesn’t that student deserve to go on both? Is it fair to take away a trip that a student has been working towards his or her entire high school career? If everyone was considered equally, scheduling aside, and I lost out because my grades weren’t as good, I would feel better because at least my grades were something that I could control. But now, a student’s ability to attend both trips is not determined by hard work and merit; rather it is decided by your birth. That is, since the Spanish trip and the MUN trip both fall in the senior year of the Class of 2015, they will not be able to attend both. The Class of 2016 is in luck though; provided they qualify for both classes they would be able to participate in both, because one trip would be in their junior year, and the other would be in their senior year. But the Class of2017 wouldn’t be able to take both. See a pattern? Your hard work means nothing every other year. In my opinion, the fairest thing to do would be to let the application process play out as it would. The students most suited for the class would be rewarded. To me, the “fair” solution as presented isn’t very fair at all, and relies on luck more than the merit of a student.

     In the effort of full disclosure, my reaction to the travel courses rumor is in part personally driven. Since I was a freshman, I have filled out a year-by-year course schedule indicating which classes I would be interested in taking in later years, in order to give the administration an idea of what courses to offer in the coming years. So, the desire of students to enroll in both SpanishCivilization and MUN shouldn’t come as a surprise. As a freshman, we were not made aware of the fact that dual enrollment was a growing problem.My fellow peers and I proceeded through Upper School under the impression that taking both classes, if we so chose, would not be a problem. But suddenly change is coming, and all our planning is in vain. We look back with regret at our difficult decision between French, Latin, Chinese and Spanish. The careful completion of the prerequisites now seems for naught. Basically, what I’m getting at is that the entire Upper School has been led astray by these false pretenses. So, in the argument of fairness, wouldn’t it be best to implement these changes in four years, so that the future classes have time to change their schedules and plan accordingly? As seniors it would be exceedingly difficult to restructure our schedules to take into account this change, fulfill our academic requirements, and still present a transcript to colleges full of the most challenging courses appropriate for us.Overall, I am unconvinced that scheduling MUN and Span Civ in the same block would be the fairest option, due to the disregard of a student’s merit and the abruptness of the change. I do appreciate the recent assembly that made an attempt to demystify the entire situation, but I’m not sure it was entirely efficient. It looks as though the administration will be examining student interest prior to making a decision about scheduling, but ultimately the assembly did not address whether it will be possible to take both MUN and Spanish Civilization. Furthermore, the request for students to rank classes caused many students to believe that they had to choose this week between MUN and Span Civ. So far, Mr. Schindler has a record low number of applicants for the MUN simulation. Students are choosing between classes before they know for which classes they qualify. Rather than maximizing the number of students in the classes, the new system is alarming the students, forcing them to make hasty decisions that limit their options. I would like to remind my fellow students that final decisions do not have to be made until course selection, and now is a good a time to raise your voice and make your concerns heard. Things aren’t going to change unless we make an effort to change them.

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