Less is not more: Low student enrollment caused cancellation of British Literature

Jaime Chu

English class faced cancellation for the first time in ten years

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British Literature is canceled next year due to low enrollment. Photo by Jaime Chu
Since last September, downsizing, cuts, and fold-ups have filled the newspaper everyday. The wave finally hit MVHS, though not for the same reasons.

“What happened one day was [English teacher] Mrs. Otto came in and she said there will not be Brit[ish] Lit[erature] next year,” English teacher Brian Singer said.

One of the five English classes offered to juniors and seniors, British Literature will not be offered next school year due to low enrollment. Only 17 students signed up for the class; all of them are sophomores.

“I was disappointed [when I heard the news.] I was looking forward to it… I really liked the reading selection,” sophomore Aneesha Amarnath, who signed up for British Literature, said.

In the four years English teacher Vanessa Otto has taught British Literature, this was the first time it faced cancellation.

“I am not sure why there was such a big decline in British Literature for next year,” Otto said.

But she suspected that students might have a misconception about the class. Singer agreed, as he had heard from students expressing the class as “hard and tough” —harder and tougher than expected, as it is neither an AP nor an Honor class.

“On top of that, students generally have a lot of other AP classes and [four other] English classes to choose from, so British Literature may not be a priority,” Singer said.

British Literature is a class offered by few schools, and he was glad that high school students could have the chance to be exposed to British literature. Otto shared similar thoughts: she believes that British Literature helps students prepare for college-level reading material.

According to student interest, elective classes have been canceled and brought back throughout the years at MVHS. FUHSD policy dictates that 28 students must enroll for an English class to be offered. However, a singleton (a class with just one period) is rarely offered. Assistant Principal Marianne Hew explained that a singleton made scheduling harder because students would then only have an one-in-seven chance to have the class. It also gave additional work to the teacher, who would have to prepare for a single class. 

However, Singer thought otherwise. “If 17 students want to take British Literature, they should be able to take British Literature,” he said.

In spite of disappointment, the department and administration expressed plans to work together to research reasons for the decline in enrollment, what students look for in an English class, and “advertise” the class more.

Meanwhile, the 17 students who were denied their desired course were guaranteed their second English class choice. As teachers are not guaranteed which classes they teach next year, Otto said teaching a new class would give her a “new and interesting learning experience.” For Singer, he entered MVHS as a substitute whether or not he will remain at the school next year is still unknown.