Students propose District mental health policy reforms at Board meeting

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Emily McNally

In response to broad calls for mental health policy reforms to reduce academic stress, students from Mountain View High School’s Ambassadors Club proposed limiting the number of Advanced Placement (AP) classes students can take, homework reduction, more mental health services and increased opportunities for test retakes and revisions at tonight’s District Board meeting.

Students from the Mountain View High School Ambassadors Club recommended limiting the number of Advanced Placement (AP) classes students can take, homework reduction, more mental health services and increased opportunities for test retakes and revisions at tonight’s District Board meeting. These suggestions were presented to the Board in response to recent calls by students for mental health policy reform within the Mountain View–Los Altos School District.

The students proposed that the District limit the number of AP classes students can take to a maximum of three per year. They also recommended that freshmen and sophomores should not be permitted to take AP classes to give them an opportunity to think carefully about which subjects they wanted to take AP classes in their junior and senior years

Board Member Sanjay Dave shared a concern that students, as a result of AP class limits, would simply choose to take advanced classes at Foothill College. 

“That really doesn’t solve the problem of [academic] pressure because now they’re taking these college-level courses but now at Foothill,” Dave said. “That could be an equity issue for some students who don’t have the resources to take classes at Foothill or other places because now they are at a disadvantage.”

The students acknowledged Dave’s concern but also argued that students rarely take multiple Foothill classes at once, and that they take them in subjects they have high interest in. Because of this, the same level of academic stress as there is with AP classes would be unlikely.

The students also advocated for several other reforms, including the presence of more racially diverse and LGBTQ+ counselors to assist with representation. They also suggested widespread use of retakes and revisions in classes to lower academic pressure and competition.

Finally, the group suggested a one hour homework limit per week for each class, AP or otherwise, in addition to making every weekend homework-free.

“I’ve spent five hours on homework after seven hours of Zoom classes,” one student said. “I find it difficult to have time for myself and for my family during the week. It’s hard for students to have well-rounded lives academically, socially and emotionally, and reducing the workload would benefit students and teachers.”

Several Board members questioned whether a new homework policy was necessary, or whether homework overload was a result of improper enforcement of the current homework policy. Students reported that the current homework policy is poorly enforced, with varying amounts of homework depending upon the day and homework-free weekends not always being honored by teachers.

The Board agreed to review the current homework policy soon, evaluating its effectiveness and potentially considering revisions for the upcoming school year.