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After hearing concerns from students and parents, Patrick Henry High School will reinstate two honors courses that were cut by the principal, San Diego Unified School District officials told families Tuesday.

The school in the San Carlos neighborhood is bringing back Honors American Literature and Honors U.S. History, two 11th-grade courses that Principal Michelle Irwin had eliminated from next school year’s course list without telling students or parents.

Irwin’s actions sparked outrage among parents and students and exacerbated fears among some that the school district is slowly getting rid of advanced course offerings.

Irwin had said she cut the advanced courses to avoid “stratifying” classes, to eliminate the stigma of non-advanced courses, and to address racial inequities in enrollment in advanced courses. But families argue that cutting advanced courses does not correct inequities, rather it exacerbates them by depriving all students of access to advanced opportunities.

Irwin apologized to families in an email Tuesday.

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“I would like to apologize to parents who interpreted this work as lowering the academic standards for students,” she wrote. “I want to be clear that Patrick Henry students are some of the best academically in all of California, and we plan to continue this legacy of excellence.”

Irwin held two Zoom meetings with Patrick Henry families last week to hear their input.

“One of the things that we heard loud and clear from our listening sessions last week was that our parents really wanted to continue having access to challenging courses,” said Erin Richison, area superintendent for San Diego Unified School District’s high schools, in an interview Tuesday.

Patrick Henry students will be given another chance to choose their course schedule for next year, Richison said.

There are still six other advanced courses missing from the catalog that Irwin had cut last year. Those will not be restored as of yet, according to district officials.

But Richison said the school will survey every incoming ninth-, 10th- and 11th-graders to see whether they want to take honors courses. Then, she said, the school will work on developing more honors courses for the next school year.

Patrick Henry High School will be part of a district pilot initiative called “Honors for All,” Irwin told families in an email Tuesday. As part of that initiative, district officials will get feedback from families across the district about what kinds of courses they want to see, Richison said.

Then the district will work to increase honors course offerings and the number of sections in honors courses at all high schools, Richison said.

“We know that we want our students to have access to rigor and opportunities that are going to support them in their postsecondary path, so whether that’s dual enrollment at our community college, AP, honors … all of those is really what we’re looking at.”

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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