New STEM research class unfairly not made available to general student body

The+Course+Selection+Sheet+was+supposed+to+list+all+available+classes+for+the+2012-13+school+year+but+the+new+STEM+research+class+was+not+included.+Screenshot+by+Joyce+Varma
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New STEM research class unfairly not made available to general student body

The Course Selection Sheet was supposed to list all available classes for the 2012-13 school year but the new STEM research class was not included. Screenshot by Joyce Varma

The Course Selection Sheet was supposed to list all available classes for the 2012-13 school year but the new STEM research class was not included. Screenshot by Joyce Varma

The Course Selection Sheet was supposed to list all available classes for the 2012-13 school year but the new STEM research class was not included. Screenshot by Joyce Varma

The Course Selection Sheet was supposed to list all available classes for the 2012-13 school year but the new STEM research class was not included. Screenshot by Joyce Varma

Joyce Varma

2012-13 Course Selection Sheet

The Course Selection Sheet was supposed to list all available classes for the 2012-13 school year but the new STEM research class was not included. Screenshot by Joyce Varma.

This summer, administration found itself in an awkward situation. The FUHSD foundation had finally approved a STEM research class for MVHS and Lynbrook High School for the 2012-2013 school year, and the class at MVHS was to be taught by science teacher and Research Club advisor Renee Fallon.

The only problem was that students had turned in course selection sheets without knowing the class was an option. The school had to find 36 students to sign up for the class.They turned to the simplest solution.

According to MVHS Principal April Scott, while LHS sent emails to freshmen and sophomores, MVHS only emailed the Research Club mailing list of about 80 previous MVHS students, and hand-selected a few incoming freshmen from middle schools, who had already participated in large-scale science fairs like Synopsis. The reasoning was that these were students who had already shown a serious interest in committing to long-term research.

“We had no way of knowing [we would even have the class] until June … and we were out for July,” Scott said.

Though the foundation had not given the school enough time to tell students about the class during course selection,  the whole student body should have had access to the course at the same time.

Because the Research Club is supposed to be open to the whole student body, technically anyone could have signed up for the mailing list. However, it would be impractical to assume that everyone with a serious interest in research had heard of the Research Club, which is an extracurricular activity. Clubs aren’t classes, and a club membership shouldn’t influence academics. In this case, not being a part of a certain club did affect students’ class options.

Though the course was available during ROTB, the administration still had not notified the general student body of it. The only way students outside the Research Club could have known about the course in time for ROTB was through word of mouth and the Infinite Campus schedule leak, which was only online for a few hours before administration took it down, not giving enough time for most students to realize the class existed.

Even though MVHS has a large student body, the administration could have easily let students know about the class before ROTB with an email sent to incoming students. That way, students would have had an adequate amount of time to consider the class as an option and request the course on the drops and request form in time for ROTB.

In an attempt to rectify the situation, Fallon has promised to anyone interested in research, that she will give the same amount of attention and help to students in the class and the club. She notes that if students are upset that they did not get a spot in the research class, they have the opportunity to conduct research as part of the club.

“I’m very thrilled and excited because whatever I do in the research class, I can still bring to the Research Club … Come on over; I’ll be happy to work with you, to give you the same tools, the same instruction as everybody else,” Fallon said.

The purpose of the new class was to meet the growing interest in research in the FUHSD, while being able to compensate the teachers who put in the extra time to help students with their own research. If Fallon is able to give the same attention to those in the research class and the club, the purpose of the class will still be accomplished in a relatively fair manner.

At a public school, every student is supposed to have the same opportunities. In future situations like these students would benefit from increased transparency of the administration in the form of notifications such as emails and phone calls to allow students to have equal chances at success.

Find out more about the new STEM class here.