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The Journal Gazette

Friday, March 09, 2018 1:00 am

Editorial

Welcome words

FWCS quells unrest on honors program's future

Rumors about the future of the honors program were beginning to bounce around Fort Wayne Community Schools when a message popped up on a local parochial schools' Facebook page: “Want to improve the academic rigor of your student's experience? Inquire about our Honors Academy program. Take Honors, Dual Credit and AP classes while gaining qualities in leadership, creativity and service.”

The timing might have been coincidental, but the message resounded with parents worried about curriculum changes. Was it time to leave the public school district for private? Several even posed that possibility in remarks to the Fort Wayne school board Feb. 26.

Last Friday, just a week after the rumors reached a fever pitch, district officials announced they would not discontinue the honors curriculum.

“After consideration of all viewpoints, FWCS has decided to continue its practice of offering honors courses,” according to a statement from the Board of Trustees. “FWCS will evaluate all honors course curriculum for consistency across different courses and schools, as well as criteria for enrollment in honors courses. The goal of the FWCS Board of School Trustees and Administration has been, and will continue to be, ensuring all students are educated to high standards.”

It was a quick response – and a necessary one. The school choice environment Indiana schools must navigate leaves no room for uncertainty and miscommunication. Left with unanswered questions about a program they value, students and families will inevitably look elsewhere.

FWCS officials were looking at enrollment in the honors program and asking whether it serves all students well. Upcoming changes required by the Indiana State Board of Education will place new demands on high schools and undoubtedly require shifting resources. The decision to preserve honors classes will not and should not end discussion about advanced-level courses, but district officials must assure students, parents and prospective families that rigorous courses are available. 

There's a silver lining for FWCS leaders. From an overflowing crowd at the board meeting, they learned how much students and parents value a program they might have taken for granted. They also gained the attention of students and parents who might not have been aware local school districts are increasingly controlled by the Statehouse, not their elected school board members.

Working together, they can demand a greater voice in state education policy.