Baltimore's AP summer program may be cut

UPDATE April 15: The decision to cut the AP Summer Academy was reversed at an April 14 board meeting, the Baltimore Sun reports. Hats off to the Baltimore City Public Schools.

A summer program for advanced high school students at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore City may fall victim to the budget ax this year, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Known as the Advanced Placement Summer Academy, the program accepts students from across the city, where their own high schools sometimes can’t offer classes like AP calculus or computer science, and puts them into summer classes with other highly motivated students.

Allison Greco, an English teacher at Patterson High School, taught AP Language and Composition at the summer academy last summer. She told the Sun she had never seen students at different academic levels “so thirsty for knowledge and success. … You have a group of kids who want to go to school during the summer when, during the school year, you can probably count on one hand how many of those kids are in your building,” the paper quoted her as saying.

The academy costs about $100,000 to run, and no decision has yet been finalized in terms of cutting it, but schools CEO Gregory Thornton has indicated it’s one of three programs he plans to cut, given budgetary constraints.

Here’s hoping the schools find this small amount of money and keep this valuable program running this summer and in the future. It’s not easy to keep high school students interested in school. School is boring to an average student, but without advanced courses, kids who would do well in AP classes are going to be looking for any distraction they can find just a few minutes into a typical school day.

“While parents are often inclined to trivialize boredom in their adolescent, it is actually a very painful emotion,” writes Kim Peterson, a counselor based in Texas. “It is an expression of loneliness. The young person can’t find a satisfying way to connect with herself, other people, or the world. She feels disconnected, at loose ends.

“This is a time when parents need to keep their adolescent adequately busy so impulsive risk-taking to cope with long term boredom is not allowed to rule.”

Likewise, kids who can handle the rigor and demands of AP courses are bored when their schools fail to offer challenging classes. Johnathan Burton, a senior at Benjamin Franklin High School, said his attendance is spotty during the year—spotty, most likely, because he’s bored with school. But the Sun quoted him as saying that last summer, “I didn’t miss any days of the AP program because I was learning new stuff.”

As Ms Peterson says, we need to keep adolescents “adequately busy,” not so much to keep them out of trouble—AP kids don’t fall into that category—but to keep them motivated in school. If we leave them to their boredom and to the adolescent risk-taking they may engage in to cope with their boredom at their regular high schools, without that summer program to energize their academic motors again, it’s pretty much a coin flip as to whether they become simply above-average students or the leaders of our next generation and brightest hope for the future.

Don’t let them down for just a little bit of money.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.