Tuesday, March 20, 2018

As required

Some folks seemed surprised that art and music were required subjects in high school.  My first year of high school was ALL required subjects, the only choice we had was which foreign language to take. French, Spanish, German and Latin were offered, everything else was pre-determined. Truth to tell most all of my high school classes were 'required' to receive an "Academic/Regents" diploma. An academic/regents diploma was required to get into college and you had to pass the state tests in each subject to earn one.

Once in college, regardless of your major, there were still required courses for graduation. Some of the required courses spanned all majors, some were specific to each particular major.

I think, and don't hold me to this, that all changed sometime in the 1980's. Both at the high school and college levels.

I won't bore you with the details of the New York City Public School curriculum but I will say it was varied and rigorous. And it addressed and served all levels of abilities. There were specialized high schools for what were considered vocational skills, from nursing to secretarial to auto mechanics to basic 3-R's life skills. There were schools that specialized in math and science and there were even schools that were either all male or all female. These were all public schools. Yes, some required entrance exams and therefore really weren't open to all but that type of higher level high school education was there for those who qualified.

There were also "600 Hundred' high schools for kids designated as 'JD's' (juvenile delinquents) or kids who were so disruptive in classes there was nowhere else to put them, and they had to be put somewhere for 4 years.

I went to high school from 1960 to 1964. And while the high school I went to was notorious, and not in a good way, and over-crowded to the point of being on triple sessions (damn baby boomers, or PWB's as the pastor of my church called us. PWB meaning post-war baby) I received an amazing education all on the public dime.

I would not exchange the education I got in the NYC Public School System for any high-priced fancy private school. At that time, in that place, public education, which included tuition free college, was superior to anything you could get today, free or fancy.