Your View: Eliminating human growth class would eliminate success


To the editor:
I am writing in response to the letter by Scott Newsham, Drop human growth class requirement to make T.C. world-class (January 20, 2011) in which he calls for eliminating the human growth and development course (part of the comprehensive Alexandria City Public School family life education program) as a requirement for graduation. Newsham claims that by doing so, the high school education experience would be significantly enhanced as the freed-up resources would provide students with the opportunity to take courses they are truly interested in
I disagree.  My two daughters went through the ACPS system. I also served for a number of years on the Family Life Advisory Committee. Both daughters took the required course, as well as many Advanced Placement courses. One played in the orchestra, one played in the band and both did sports. In no way did the course interfere with their academics or, as some have implied, prevent them from taking courses that appeal to the better colleges.
Both girls went to schools consistently ranked among the best in the nation, Grinnell College and Davidson College. When my youngest decided to take a physics course in the summer to lighten her load for the upcoming year, she took it at the University of North Carolina. They used the same textbook in this college class that they use at T.C. My oldest daughter graduated number one in her class.
Im not raising these points to brag but to point out how rigorous the course work is at T.C. and to show that eliminating a family life class somehow inhibits academic achievement. My daughters are not unique. T.C. turns out students like them all the time. And theyre not only good students, but good people, thanks in part to the lessons learned in human growth and development lessons about ethics and respect and making good choices. 
I spoke at the 2004 meeting Mr. Newsham references in his letter, and in preparation I had contacted my oldest daughter, Erin, to get her thoughts about eliminating this required course. Here is what she said:
I think the human growth and development course is the best course I ever took for many reasons. Some of them: It teaches you to deal with issues that could impede academic success its hard to get through Harvard with a baby on your hip. It gives you a strong basis for courses youll take in college like psychology, sociology and human resources. I had more knowledge coming into those courses than most of the other students and this course deals with issues that I address every day of my life.
As Mr. Newsham states, proposals have been made before to eliminate the course, yet each time those proposals are rejected by those who recognize its value.  
I agree with Mr. Newshams statement that partnerships with parents and the community are an important and essential part of students success.  But it is also essential that parents and the community truly understand the issues being discussed. Do not mount a campaign to eliminate a course that well-informed stakeholders believe is a strong contributor to that very success.