Opinion: Remove Mandatory Study Hall

Resident Katherine Chan urged the Board of Education last week to end the mandatory study hall at South Pasadena High School. Here is what she had to say

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | Resident Katherine Chan urged the Board Of Education last week to remove the mandatory requirement on study hall period at South Pasadena High School.

Letter to Board of Education,

I am speaking here today about the issue of “Mandatory Study Hall” policy, which will be strictly enforced in SPHS the next school year starting in August.  A good number of parents have contacted the school administration in the past two months to express their concern over this policy, and today I would like to take the opportunity to speak to the board members directly.

We understand that SPHS has always had a study hall period in place for students, but it is only an option available to its students as opposed to being a mandatory requirement.   Students, in the past 10 years at least, are free to choose an elective course over the study hall.  So the study hall period has never become mandatory until now.

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In the case that the study hall becomes mandatory, by comparison to our neighboring high schools, the instructional time of our high school bell schedule (Period 1-6) will be 30-40 minutes less on each school day.  For example, on a regular day Period 1-6 schedule – SP 300 minutes / La Canada: 336 minutes (single period class schedule) & 347 minutes (block schedule) / San Marino: 340 minutes / Mark Keppel: 338 minutes.

The six-period instructional time (3×100 minutes block schedule) makes every sense if the 7th period is built in to provide flexibility of a single period 50 minutes class (can be either an elective or a study hall at the option of students).  However, if the study hall becomes mandatory thus eliminate the option of taking an elective, students will be left with the 300 minutes only instructional time on a daily basis.

We wish to point out that for most of our local kids, SPHS is a college preparatory environment.  Students are prepared for admission to elite or competitive 4-year colleges.  Parents can find in the SPUSD website, “SPUSD has earned a reputation for providing high quality public education, attracting families who value challenging academic programs and outstanding teachers”.  However, with the dwindling choice of AP courses and the electives, less instructional time on daily basis, we were just wondering how can the high school remain competitive and attract families to send their kids to the high school here where the decline in overall registration was cited as the main reason for enforcing the Mandatory Study Hall policy.

South Pasadena residents and businesses are always supportive of our schools.  It is so evidenced in the passing of Measure SP and Measure S.  If there are extraordinary financial problems, please have SPEF publicize it and we as a community will try to step up our efforts to support the schools.

There is still time and ways to rectify the situation.  The school administration may, at the commencement of next school year in August, remove the “mandatory” requirement on study hall period, which enables the high school students to make their own choice.

Thank you.

Katherine Chan