Misplacement of students in SAGE is unacceptable

Matthew Smalbach


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Every student at Redwood is required to take a class in economics in order to graduate. In fact, it is required to have a semester of both government and economics in order to attend a University of California (UC) or California State University. According to the University of California, over 210,000 students from California attended a UC in 2017. Economics is important because understanding market and behavioral economics is crucial in order to be ready for competitive college majors such as business, law, mathematics or to simply achieve financial literacy to succeed in the real world.

According to The Princeton Review, business and economics are the fourth and fifth most popular majors in the United States, respectively. Therefore, obtaining a base understanding of economics is important for students that are considering pursuing it in college.

This year, nearly half of each Sustainable Agriculture and Economics (SAGE) class was made up of senior students who had requested to take the normal economics and government classes. SAGE is a year-long course about sustainable agriculture, government, and economics, designed for Redwood students who are interested in agriculture and how it applies to both government and economics. Students who do not want to be in SAGE should not have been placed in the SAGE program because it doesn’t provide students with the important base of knowledge that they need. While it satisfies the needs of some students, it should not be forced upon students who did not sign up for the course.

Redwood does not have a set number of classes for each subject. The number of classes fluctuates based on the number of students who sign up for the course. Why did that change this year? Numerous kids who did not sign up for SAGE were not given a justification for being placed in the program. One of the most appealing aspects of Redwood is that it prioritizes class choice. That did not happen this year and the administration has to do a better job of managing classes and making sure everyone’s needs are placed before the needs of the school. In fact, senior Elle Gardner said that she was placed in the class with no formal explanation. Gardner suspects that there were not enough kids to fill the SAGE classes and that students were pulled from normal economics classes to fill them. If this is the case, SAGE should only have the number of classes that the students support and more regular economics classes should have been added.

SAGE is a program based on the agricultural side of economics. Often times, it is even referred to by students and teachers as “soybean” economics. Students who are forced into the SAGE program aren’t necessarily interested in the agricultural side of economics and feel as if they would be better off if placed in another course. Due to the fact that a portion of the class is uninterested in the material, the overall engagement of the class could decrease. According to Gardner, everything in SAGE makes more sense with a knowledge of what sustainable agriculture is. Students who do not take the sustainable agriculture class could feel left behind and are probably at a bit of a disadvantage, according to Gardner.

Both government and economics contain critical material and throwing students who are not at all interested in agriculture into the class is unfair and unnecessary for everyone who needs a good foundation of both subjects for a potential major or job.

This decrease in engagement is to the detriment of both those who are and aren’t interested in the material, as well as the teacher. By the end of the class, the students who were not interested will not have a strong knowledge of market and behavioral economics, while the students interested in agriculture could potentially be disengaged due to such a large portion of the class not wanting to be there. In the end, the course does not help everybody involved learn the material and set themselves up for their future aspirations.

The school’s responsibility is to provide the best education for each student. The needs of the students should be the number one priority of the school because with the current situation, not all students are being set up for success. Right now, there are students who will be a step behind their peers in economics-related majors, and that is unacceptable.

In SAGE as well as other classes, the school must start to focus on class choice. As the school continues to fight overpopulation, it is imperative that students remain able to take the classes they desire.