PECHS Is Going Backward By ‘Leaps And Bounds,’ Mom Says

Published 12:43 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2015

As a parent of four Prince Edward County High School students, including graduates from 2007, 2010 and 2013, and one due to graduate in 2018, I have seen many school board-initiated changes in policies, procedures and curriculum.

The most significant positive changes happened during three or four years leading up to my 2013 graduate’s successful completion of high school. Due to an advanced middle school curriculum, he was able to have three high school credits under his belt upon entering high school. He was fortunate enough to be able to take Latin and German. He was able to stretch his wings and explore eight class subjects per year while in high school.

Email newsletter signup

Not only did he pursue an advanced diploma; he was able to take a full “completer” course in electronics. He took the excellent instruction he received in the course and won the state-level USA Skills Competition and went on to the national competition, in which he placed 13th. In addition to a rigorous academic schedule, he took classes in art, language, computer-aided drafting and photography. Most important, he was able to take all seven advanced-placement courses offered by the school.

Due to wonderful instruction he received by Prince Edward High School educators, he earned qualifying scores on all seven of his AP exams and advanced scores on five of them. He was pushed, challenged and engaged. His success on the AP exams put him almost a year ahead in college, giving him time to double major in both physics and chemistry. His love of chemistry started at Prince Edward High School with the remarkable instruction he received in his AP chemistry class.

What a difference a year makes!

My youngest started high school in 2014. Both German and Latin were no longer offered.  Students are now limited to only seven classes per school year. Graduation requirements have lowered. And now I hear that several of the AP classes will no longer be offered.

I have heard the reasons behind some of these decisions, including that fewer classes per year simplified the schedule. Well, of course, it did, but at what cost?

Fewer classes per year gave more time for instruction for Standards of Learning courses. Have scores improved enough (or at all) to justify sacrificing four classes? I have heard that SOL scores have actually gone down. Instead of eliminating course offerings, has the school board searched out other avenues to maintain them?

And, what about seeking out ways to add courses? What about environmental technology, web design or medical technology? Our students who may find it difficult to pass the SOLs may also find it harder to find their niche, career-wise, as adults.

Rather than forcing students to spend extra time each day learning how to pass a test, wouldn’t the school better serve our students by broadening their exposure to a greater variety of fields of study? The answer is obvious.

This latest school board decision to eliminate some instructor-taught AP classes is due, I hear, to low enrollment. I want to know what measures have been taken to increase enrollment. I get letters mailed home to remind me to make sure my daughter eats breakfast on SOL testing days, but I have yet to receive a letter informing me of the benefits of taking AP courses or describing the AP offerings. Have teachers been instructed (or enabled) to promote AP classes during schedule request time?

Are our teachers, guidance counselors, administrators and school board members encouraging our students to reach higher and go further? The answer is no, I am afraid. I am distraught and alarmed at the direction in which the Prince Edward County School Board is steering our schools.  We took so many strides forward from 2009 to 2013.  Why are we leaping backward?

Rebecca Carwile is a lifelong member of the Farmville area and a working mother of four children. She has been actively involved in various school committees, including the gifted and special education advisory committees. Carwile attended Southside Virginia Community College and Longwood University. Her email address is