Preuss offers unique perspective on A-G debate

By Jake Sticka

The Preuss School was recently mentioned in a San Diego Union-Tribune education story. Surprise, surprise: It was a positive mention.

The story, appearing in the Dec. 29 edition of the paper, was focused on the recently formed Education Consortium of San Diego County and their efforts to institute more college-prep classes into county public school classrooms.

The consortium of over 30 local organizations, including the ACLU of San Diego, the City of San Diego Human Relations Commission, and the League of Women Voters, has been particularly focused on what the University of California and California State University systems have dubbed “A-G” course requirements.

Despite completion of these courses being necessary for admission to a UC or CSU campus, only 40 percent of county students do so.

District to district these rates differ, from San Dieguito at the high end with 74 percent of students completing the full A-G to Vista, where only 21 percent take all of the required courses, which include four years of English, three years of math, and two years of history. Collectively, San Diego County lags behind Los Angeles, Orange, Alameda, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties.

Attending Preuss, one of three county schools that have followed San Jose School District’s lead in making A-G completion a graduation requirement, I can attest to the necessity of the consortium’s efforts.

The presence of a foreign language, a visual and performing art, and a college prep elective requirement in my curriculum ensured that it was a varied and interesting one. The presence of a solid core curriculum in the humanities and sciences gives me confidence that I am prepared for college.

Even more, though, I feel as though the A-G has given me an advantage in getting to college. Although all applicants to UC schools will have completed these requirements as well, the same can not be said for all the applicants at peer institutions.

As strength of schedule becomes more of a decisive factor in an increasingly competitive college admittance game, the A-G would seem to represent a formative one. These perceptions are bared out quantitatively; Latino and African-American students in San Jose have nearly doubled the rate at which they are going to college.

The obvious counterargument here is that not everyone goes to college nor do we need everyone to do so. Although there is some truth to this, studies suggest that 85 percent of California jobs will soon be considered “skilled,” meaning that they will need some sort of post-high school training or education.

A-G takes this into account as well, with Career Tech Ed courses fulfilling requirements. For instance, agricultural economics can fulfill a history requirement, while robotics and electronics can fulfill an elective requirement.

In these ways, A-G functions to help all California students towards being productive members of society. Having seen what I have at a school where it is a requirement, I see A-G as one of the few positives our school system has going forward.

Jake Sticka, a senior at Preuss School UCSD, is editor-in-chief of the Preuss Insider.