The AAPS Seventh Hour Fee Policy, temporarily implemented this summer by the Ann Arbor Public School Board, to charge students at Pioneer and Huron High Schools for music, art, Advanced Placement, and other important classes was misguided on several fronts.
1. It would have created a two-tiered system of education, where those students whose parents can and are willing to pay the $100.00/semester fee (or whatever it will be raised to in future years) have the option of taking advantage of the full range of course and scheduling options while those students whose parents cannot or will not pay the fee are not able to enjoy the same privilege. Although the AAPS Board created an option for a seventh hour fee waiver by having students “self-identify” if they are eligible for free or reduced price lunches, in reality many students and their parents would not do so because of the social stigma involved.
2. It would have created a disadvantage for students at Pioneer and Huron because the quarter system model at Skyline High School would have allowed students to take advantage of the arts and AP offerings without having to pay a seventh hour fee or its equivalent.
3. It would have moved us away from the free and appropriate education model to a tiered system of education where those who can afford it get the full benefit and those who cannot get partial benefit of our public education system.
4. It would have added to the ever expanding divide between the haves and the have nots in our nation, by allowing those students whose families can pay the fee to access the arts and AP classes to be better prepared for admission to the best colleges and universities in our nation, thus perpetuating the cycle of privilege and advantage.
5. The 7th hour fees would have unfairly targeted the arts, making them less integral to the educational process at Pioneer and Huron, even though studies have shown that art, music, and language courses have positive impacts on scores and performance of all students.
We urge the Ann Arbor Public Schools Trustees to abandon the idea of charging for 7th hour.
Washtenaw Regional Organizing Coalition (WeROC)