To the Editor:
My name is Madeleine Gonley, I am a scout in BSA Troop 19 and a freshman at Ridgefield High School. I am writing to you today regarding the proposal to drop Global 1 as a high school requirement for incoming freshman. I recently attended a town meeting concerning this issue with seven of my peers. While this issue may not directly affect us, we feel is it our civic duty to oppose it any way we can.
Throughout the meeting many points became clear, one being that by dropping Global History 1 as a class, we are “dumbing down our school system,” as said by Finn Cronin, Ridgefield high school freshman and previous history bee qualifier. The school system was created to prepare people for the future, and as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “the more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” Is school preparing students for the future when it refuses to teach the past? As Hersha Chauhan, Ridgefield Miss America mentor noted, from annotating texts to developing writing techniques and creating refined questions, students learn skills in Global 1 that are vital for the rest of their high school experience. By removing Global 1, an extra year of learning will be pushed into an already full lesson plan for the sophomore year. Global 2 teachers will be forced to cram two years of learning into one year while also taking the time to develop the writing skills that were supposed to be introduced in freshman year. This means less time is spent on each topic and as a result, students are unlikely to truly understand the deeper meaning to what they learn. This will also cause students to be less prepared for future important exams, such as the SAT, ACT, and AP exams. As it seems statistics and numbers are the only way to grab the Board of Education’s attention, a study from 1998 to 2016 showed that while GPAs have increased, scores on the SATs have been falling. The average GPA rose from 3.27 to a 3.38, and the average SAT score has dropped from 1026 to 1002 on a 1600 scale. These are startling numbers and the more changes the school system makes, the larger the gap past and future scores will become.
Often times people overlook history as a subject. Kids are told they should be engineers or doctors when they’re older; is it very rare that anyone considers studying history. History is overlooked and considered to be unimportant. I remember at the beginning of this year thinking history was all about names and dates, but throughout the semester I have gained a love for history. History has brought me to look at the world in a new light. The current president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has been in favor of dictatorship. This reminds me of the quote by famous writer and philosopher, George Santayana, saying “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I remember this quote because just as Julius Caesar wanted to be the sole leader of Rome, abandoning the Senate, Bolsonaro’s favor would have him as the sole leader of Brazil, and as anyone who studied history would know, Caesar was assassinated by the people he was trying to overthrow: the Senate. And while these two events may be completely unrelated, Global 1 has made me look at them and at least think.
Furthermore, students and teachers deserve to be involved in this decision. Anshuman asked in a public poll if Global 1 should be dropped as a requirement for the freshman. An astounding 1,071 of 1,213 people said that Global 1 should not be dropped. All students and teachers ask are to be involved in the decision-making process and work with the school system to make an educated settlement.
Madeleine Gonley
West Lane, Feb. 27