I spotted my friend, Curmudgeon, at the far table, behind a scraggly bush. "Hiding again, Cur, aren't you? A tall Latte," I added to the hovering server.
"Yes, from the sun." He snapped his teeth at me with an evil grin.
"Please. So, what are you upset about now?"
"How did you guess?"
"I think the crumpled up Washington Post gave it away this time. What's the article?"
He unfolded the section and turned to the page. Several well-known private schools in the D.C. area are scrapping Advanced Placement classes was the title. I skimmed through it, with a few "huh"s as I read.
I looked up at him and asked, "Well, our families could never afford those schools anyway. Why should we care?"
"Exactly. You took AP classes in public school, didn't you?"
I nodded. "And the tests. Got 9 units of college credit for my high school work, too."
"And it helped your GPA, right?"
"Sure. AP classes allow students to earn over a 4.0 average and show their academic strengths. Many of the top universities won't even look at your application anymore if you don't have over a 4.2." I shrugged. "Okay. I get that these students now won't have the opportunity to get over a 4.0, is that what you mean?"
"That's a part of it. And, if they and their parents aren't worried about that, that implies something."
"You'll tell me, right?"
"Legacies, connections, donations, etc. That it doesn't matter for them to get into the Ivy League, they're in already, and they'll have the luxury of interdisciplinary 'experiences' that only private schools can afford and provide. Somehow, those'll pull more weight for the Ivy admissions committees, than working hard at your classroom desk and showing academic skills in your resource limited public school. Along with the other non-academic criteria admissions committees are now weighing more heavily than they used to."
"But don't these hybrid classes and beyond the classroom experiences enrich social skills, maturity, critical thinking, and so on?"
"Enrich is the key word. Yes. Because if your position in an elite business, corporation, or institution is guaranteed, you can afford to dabble at the buffet of life and not worry about academic excellence. (cough) George W Bush (cough)." He cleared his throat. "But, networking with your fellow elites and learning the ropes of conspiracy (cough), I mean, collaboration. Meanwhile, students on the other side of the economic divide will be at a disadvantage." He sipped his black coffee. "But, we can't maintain the status quo for the 1%, if if bright public school students excel at the learning common in most countries in Asia and Europe, and compete with 'elite' students on academic skills alone. It undermines the meritocracy on which the achievements, competitiveness, and success of our country and its middle class has been based."