Closing the gap: Minorities in AP

The writers of this article are the co-Founders of Minorities in AP (MAP) Initiative at Wilson.

 

When I first entered Wilson in 2018 I found myself in a Pre-Calculus class full of upperclassmen that looked like me—Black. After a week or two, I switched to the Honors Precalculus course to earn extra credit and be in the same class as my friends from middle school. 

However, what I saw when I entered my new math class was unexpected. After being in a predominantly Black math class for the beginning of school, I suddenly became one of only two Black students in the room. The next year in AP Calculus BC, I became the only Black student in my class. Finally, in my junior year, I realized that internal segregation in Wilson’s classrooms could no longer go unaddressed.

The moment I began to see the disconnect was a January morning in my AP US History class, another predominantly white course. It was the day after the insurrection of the Capitol and the class’s common thought was “if those people were Black, they would have been dead.” The conversation quickly developed into a discussion of what could be done to remedy the divide in this country, especially in the context of race. It was unfortunately ironic.

In a classroom with a clear lack of diversity, the most popular solution for remedying the divide was having difficult conversations. While I believe communication to be important, simply talking is incomparable to action when it comes to establishing a lasting change. 

So, I decided to act. Teaming together with Co-Founder Jean-Pierre Roberts, history teacher Matthew Burgoyne, and English teacher Jennifer McLaughlin, we set out to mend the racial divide and inequity in Wilson through the MAP Committee.

What is the MAP Mentoring Program?

To understand the initiative behind the Minorities in Advanced Placement (MAP) Committee at Wilson, we must first address the different classes available at Wilson. 

As most may know, there are AP, honors, and on-level classes. AP and honor classes provide students with a boosted GPA compared to the maximum of a 4.0 for on-level classes.

The MAP Mentoring program seeks to pair up students of color, involved in AP classes, with a mentor that is also of color. The mentor goes on to stay in contact with the mentee throughout the course of their AP course and provide them with all assistance they need.

Minorities in AP plays a pivotal role in engaging students of color that are already enrolled in AP classes and setting themselves up for success, as well as encouraging students of color to enroll in AP courses the following year. Without it there would be no active effort within Wilson to diversify these classes, which is wrong. Wilson spends too much time preaching how inclusive it is, to simply not encourage its students of color to enroll in and benefit from these AP courses. 

Goal of the MAP Committee 

The goal of MAP is to foster a place for students of color to feel comfortable asking questions, working together, and building a path to success in AP classes that is otherwise unavailable to them; we want to ensure success and a safe learning environment for all students at Wilson regardless of race. 

We took a moment to recognize the blatant segregation happening between on-level and AP classes. This is particularly an issue to us because it creates a system in which white students will succeed at higher levels more often because they are encouraged, and have a community in these AP classes that get GPA boosts, as compared to the Latinx, Black, and Brown students who will be stuck at a 4.0 cap in on-level classes. This issue is brought to a higher concern when you consider the social and cultural disconnects between the two communities. We want to play a role in curving all of this by either pushing for AP for all, or no AP at all. Completely removing AP classes or making all the courses AP ensures that every class is diverse and that every student, regardless of race, can have the same chances to succeed on the same level. The Minorities in AP Committee has pushed its first efforts to close this gap through its MAP Mentoring Program.  

What’s next

Minorities in AP is currently looking for mentees as well as mentors in order to really kick-start this school year and get this mission off the ground. MAP is also looking to expand into having teacher-led sessions where more broad topics are covered, as well as expanding into more classes. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor or mentee there are posters scattered throughout the building with a QR code in order to sign up, or you can join the Remind @4ha22h

to get in touch with Jean-Pierre and Shaina. •