EdWeek and Joanne Jacobs have brought new attention to the College Board’s SpringBoard program. According to the College Board’s materials, SpringBoard “enables students to build the skills and understanding they need for success in AP courses and college-level work without remediation.”
Not so fast. Tampa Bay Online provides a useful comparison of Hillsborough County’s (FL) old English curriculum with the SpringBoard program, and the differences are distressing. In 12th grade, for instance, SpringBoard replaces a unit on the English Renaissance (Spenser, Raleigh, Shakespeare, and the King James Bible) with a unit on My Fair Lady, The Manchurian Candidate, Nine to Five, Cinderella, and The Legend of Bagger Vance. 12th grade Victorian literature (Tennyson, the Brownings, Kipling, Dickens, Bronte) is replaced by a current events unit focusing on the Waco massacre, Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” and newspaper editorials (which SpringBoard also emphasizes in 11th grade).
Some teachers are pushing back, as well they should, since SpringBoard is totally unlike AP or college-level instruction. Unsurprisingly, SpringBoard advocates claim that critics are missing the point, as teacher Alice Wurkovich puts it: “It’s about being able to critically read. If you can read, you can read the classics on your own.” We’ve heard that one before.