Franklin Post Editors,
This letter is in response to the “AP Classes Lack Racial Diversity” article published in Issue 4 of the January 2019 Franklin Post.
While I agree there is still work to be done at Franklin High School to address the disproportionate enrollment of students of color in our Advanced Placement (AP) courses, I would like address the sentiment that “there is much less support or motivation from teachers, parents, or administrators to enroll” students of color in AP courses and that “it is still noticeable that adults in schools are not mentioning AP classes to students of color.”
Franklin High School has historically and traditionally been a leader in Portland Public Schools as a school community dedicated to the inclusiveness of students of color in AP courses.
Under the leadership of former Principal Dr. Charles Hopson, Franklin was one of the first schools to publically remove “gatekeeping” practices and create an open enrollment system for any student interested in taking AP courses by fostering an “AP for all” mindset.
To further support this position, in 2008 Franklin staff created the Advanced Scholars Program (ASP); a nationally recognized and replicated mentoring program originally designed to support students of color who enrolled in AP and other academically rigorous courses. One aspect of the ASP program is student mentoring. Advanced Scholar students receive extra support to meet the requirements of the program. This support happens in the form of mentor groups led by FHS teachers, counselors, administrators and staff. Mentors work with students in various capacities including: grade checks, forecasting, exploring college and career options, identifying scholarships, tips for AP exams, letters of recommendations, resume writing, study tips, organization, summer plans, and goal setting. This program has since been adopted and replicated by other PPS high schools, including Roosevelt and Grant, and supported financially by the district.
Additionally, the Franklin staff and administration have annually created other opportunities to inform and encourage students of color to take AP classes. Listos, the Latinx and Native American affinity student luncheon, and Higher Ground, the African American and Pacific Islander affinity student luncheon, are calendared during January and February of each school year, just prior to forecasting, with the intent of encouraging students to forecast for AP, dual credit, and other rigorous courses; by helping them to better understand the benefit of AP which assists with the preparation for college level courses. These lunch presentations are specifically geared towards student populations least represented in AP classes.
Furthermore, some Franklin AP teachers present in some non-AP core classes during their prep periods or during their AP class, while a peer substitutes, and hold presentations to recruit and encourage potential students to forecast for AP classes for the upcoming school year.
Lastly, Franklin HS does not deny any student the opportunity to take an AP course based upon financial constraints and funds any student interested in taking the test that cannot meet the test fees during the time of registration. This practice has assisted in yielding Franklin as having the highest number of AP tests taken throughout the district the past two years.
While we as a school community can undoubtedly take additional steps to encourage students of color to take AP classes, and as offered in the article even use the “Student Bill of Rights for Students of Color in AP and IB Courses” as another resource and also provide additional support to students while enrolled; I’d regret missing an opportunity to provide more accurate details regarding this issue and to also acknowledge the efforts of current and former teachers, staff, and administrators of Franklin High School.
I appreciate the author’s willingness and courage to share their personal circumstance, and to shine a light the sad and uncomfortable experience for many of our students. As principal I personally am vested in working with any student or any student groups interested is discussing how we can collaborate on increasing our enrollment and retention of students of color in not just AP, but allof our school wide classes and programs in which disproportionate representation of students of color exists.