Editorial: Discontinuing APUSH would be a step backwards

Earlier this month, the social studies department voted to stop requiring APUSH for all students. While the administration decided not to make this change next year, it is still a potential for the future.
APUSH for all is something that sets South apart-it shows South is committed to closing the opportunity gap. This is unique in Minneapolis public schools and we at the Southerner think it is something to be incredibly proud of. There are countless students at South for whom APUSH was the gateway into other AP, honors level, or advanced classes. APUSH is empowering. It shows students who lack confidence in their academic abilities that they can succeed in an AP class.
APUSH is not easy for everyone, and it’s true that many people do not succeed in the class and on the test. However, we do not believe this is the fault of the students. It is not a reason to discontinue the requirement. It is a tall order to make sure that all students are at the same level in a class with such a wide range of differently-skilled students, but this is part of the beauty of the course. Teachers, administrators, and the student body should all work together to create an environment where students can collaborate to help each other succeed.
If APUSH ceases to be required and is instead split into an AP level and standard US History, it is inevitable that the demographics of these classes will follow the trends of many other AP classes. Predominantly white, middle class, high-achieving students with strong family support systems will enroll in the AP class, and continue on the advanced tract afterward. Many disadvantaged students will never be given the chance to experience an AP class. Advanced classes at South will segregate even further, reversing the positive trends of recent years. Because of South’s incredible diversity, this trend cannot be ignored.
Minnesota has one of the largest achievement gaps in the country, and as an urban school with a high concentration of minority students, we have a responsibility. We need to be focusing on closing the gap. Requiring APUSH for all sophomores is a step in the right direction, and ceasing to require it would be a step backward.