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The Student News Site of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

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The Student News Site of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

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Victoria Damaso
AP World History teacher Devin Schaller answers sophomore Nicole Agami’s question regarding topics 6.5 and 6.6 while the rest of the class completes their do now on Friday, Feb. 16. Given that a majority of AP World course involves geographical knowledge, there are concerns that allowing freshmen to enroll in the course without a geography prerequisite may affect their performance in world history classes. “The difficulty that existed in AP Human was not too much for freshmen but gave them the stepping stone to be successful in AP World,” Schaller said.

MSD administration removes geography course for incoming freshmen to accommodate for financial literacy class

Social studies courses at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are being restructured and reorganized to accommodate for the personal financial literacy graduation requirement, as decided by administration in January 2024. Starting with the incoming Class of 2028, freshmen will take world history, sophomores will take government and law studies, juniors will continue to take United States history and seniors will take personal financial literacy and economics. Geography has shifted to an elective.

Broward County Public Schools approved the implementation of a new course requiring incoming ninth graders entering the 2021-2022 school year, or the Class of 2025, to take the finance literacy class to receive a graduation credit.

Additionally, Senate Bill 1504 was passed during the 2022 legislative session to require financial literacy for graduation. SB 1054 was signed in March 2022 by Gov. Ron DeSantis, obliging students entering high school during the 2023-2024 school year, or the Class of 2027, in Florida to take financial literacy in order to receive a standard high school diploma.

The old social study order at MSD allowed students to meet all their social studies requirements一a year of world history, a year of U.S. history, half a year of government and half a year of economics一and take geography their freshman year to set them up for success in later classes.

However, with the additional half-credit requirement, new classes needed to be paired up. Originally, MSD decided to offer government with law studies and economics with financial literacy so that students could enroll in the two courses to satisfy their graduation requirements. This would have forced students to sacrifice an elective slot and “double block” either U.S. history and government and economics with financial literacy. Double blocking refers to a student enrolling in two classes of the same subject.

Recognizing this issue, MSD’s administration removed geography as the history class available to ninth graders to prevent incoming freshmen from having to sacrifice an elective slot to take the additional financial literacy class. Now, incoming freshmen will be offered world history their freshman year, government with law studies their sophomore year, U.S. history their junior year and personal financial literacy and economics their senior year.

By reorganizing the social studies requirement list, administration believes that students will not have to worry about wasting an elective slot by double blocking a social studies class.

“I think this is a great change we are going to make just because of the fact that as you become juniors and seniors, there are a lot of classes that you guys like to take,” Guidance Director Veronica Melei said. “So now, instead of students only having two electives–because one of the years they have to double [social studies classes]–they are back to three electives and can choose other classes they would want to take.”

However, many teachers and students at MSD share the opinion that geography is an essential class, as it acts as a foundation to the proceeding social study classes. AP World History Devin Schaller states that AP Human Geography serves as a preparation to his class, and removing it as a 9th grade social studies option may deprive future students of essential skills necessary for succeeding the course.

“I liked AP Human because it was a stepping stone to the difficulty of this class,” Schaller said. “So now, if students don’t have that opportunity, then they are coming into this class less prepared because they don’t have the geography element that is important for World History. They now also won’t have experience with the difficulty of the class.”

Additionally, Schaller believes that removing geography may result in students taking two social studies classes their sophomore year, contradicting administration’s goal of preventing students from double blocking.

“I think in the long run, [removing geography] is going to not change much with who takes the class and when. I think students are still going to take AP World as sophomores, but double up with Government,” Schaller said.

Sophomore Emma Schwartz, who is currently in AP World, believes that by removing geography as an social studies class option for ninth graders, they will have a harder time adjusting to the rigor level of World History, as well as be unfamiliar with geographical terms.

“You need geography for World History classes,” Schwartz said. “In AP World, even the vocabulary tests are geography. You need to be familiar with regions to be prepared for what World History offers.”

Sophomore Alyssa Rapps shares a similar concern. Taking World Geography her freshman year has prepared her for World History, which heavily revolves around geography in her opinion.

“I think making geography not a requirement is very silly seeing as I learned a lot in World geography in ninth grade,” Rapps said. “Especially this year in World History. It was so helpful to me–the vocabulary terms and overall information that I learned last year. I don’t understand how kids are going to go about that.”

Although MSD’s administration removed World Geography to benefit incoming students, current teachers and students believe that the class was helpful in providing freshmen crucial skills needed for preceding social studies classes. Without offering the class for ninth graders, future students may be unprepared on basic geographical knowledge that may interfere with their comprehension of world history, government with law studies and U.S. history.

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About the Contributor
Victoria Damaso, Multimedia Editor
Victoria Damaso is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She is a first-year reporter. She enjoys figure skating, listening to music and hanging out with friends in her free time.
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