Equity brings another Spanish teacher, one less math teacher

Samantha Freyre
Students in the second period AP Calculus class are working on projects that they would present to the Pre-Calculus students as a way to encourage them to join the class.

During a School Site Council (SSC) meeting, Principal Deb Smith announced that math teacher Anna Felix’s position will be closed, leaving teachers Leslie Hicks and Dan Cramer as the only ones in the math department.

In order to be equitable to all departments, the SSC decided on a budget that traded a math teacher for a Spanish teacher due to the Spanish department only having one teacher and the math having three.

“Mrs. Hurtado is one teacher who has to teach every single student on this campus,” Smith said. “That’s a tremendous burden for one teacher to carry all of that.”

With Felix’s displacement, all of her classes will have to be taken up by Hicks and Cramer. They each have two free periods, one conference period and the other for Math for America, a program in which Hicks and Cramer try to increase persistent and deep, hands-on problem solving for more effective teaching. In order to make room for the classes Felix taught, both teachers will have to use the MƒA period to teach a class.

Even after redistributing Felix’s classes, there are not enough periods to teach all of the math courses. To fix this, an auxiliary teacher and college professor will have to teach one period a day to make up for the classes. However, this does not accommodate the students in each class. On a larger scale, it means an increase in class sizes within the math department. This poses problems for both students and teachers when it comes to learning.

“We came to the conclusion that the thing that helps our students the best is lowering class sizes,” Hicks said.

Because of the rearrangements, Hicks may be forced to trade in her AP Calculus class for another lower level math class if an auxiliary teacher, a teacher who comes to teach for one period, is not found. However, though AP Calculus may be in danger of cancellation, two Los Angeles Valley College classes, Math 240 (trigonometry) and Math 260 (pre-calculus) will be offered in the 2018-2019 school year. Math 240 will be offered in the fall while Math 260 will be offered in the spring. Both of these classes are planned to take place during the school day.

Another potential solution depends on whether or not the enrollment of the 2018-2019 school year will exceed 371 students. If this happens, then the district would grant Daniel Pearl Magnet High School another teacher, which Smith plans on using for the math department.

“The class sizes increasing for Algebra 1 is especially a big problem,” Hicks said. “The strongest correlation between a student’s early high school experience and not graduating from high school is failing Algebra 1.”