My case for keeping economics at the school


Jake Federman

After Dr. Kelly raised concerns with AP Economics in his State of the School address in early February, Dean of Students Michael Dalo revealed that economics would be “rotated out with regard to next year’s course offerings.” As a student currently enrolled in AP Economics, I believe that the school should create a replacement 400-level economics course based on the structure of the AP course and should not suspend the subject.

A key factor that makes AP Economics such an attractive choice for students to select is its uniqueness from every other course in the catalog. Economics is the only course currently offered at the school that deals with applications of math in the social sciences. Students who are passionate about mathematics but are turned off by the theoretical side of the field are drawn to economics, as it is an area of study where quantitative methods are employed to solve global problems. Additionally, economics has connections to a wide variety of other disciplines, as it can be combined with statistics (econometrics), law (labor law/trade law), psychology (behavioral economics), and other fields. The unique versatility of economics as an interdisciplinary subject is one reason for its popularity at Horace Mann.

Five months into the course, I can safely say AP Economics is the best class I have ever taken. The class has exposed me to a way of thinking not taught anywhere else at the school. I have learned to understand how the world works from an economic lens, and how trade-offs, scarcity, supply and demand, and other concepts impact every aspect of our daily lives. Even though the class is very demanding, I often enjoy doing my homework and I look forward to class every afternoon because the material is so fascinating. The class moves quickly, keeping students alert, but it also moves deliberately enough to afford students the opportunity to fully understand the material.

Even though AP Economics may be similar to collegiate Econ 101 courses in terms of content, the Horace Mann economics experience is more valuable than an introductory economics course at the college level. Because Econ 101 is typically one of the most popular courses at universities, classes often have hundreds of students and are dominated by lectures, hindering the class from becoming as engaging as possible. On the other hand, having only 20 students in a Horace Mann economics class makes it possible for everyone to participate in the class. The small class size fosters a collaborative atmosphere to a level that I have never experienced in any of my other classes. 

If I had to describe my AP Economics experience in one word, I would use the word “collaborative.” Collaboration is so encouraged in the class that it often feels like we are expected to work together on assignments. I can often be found on group FaceTime calls checking over problem sets, creating massive study guides, or even discussing nightly homework questions with classmates. The classroom feels less like an ordinary class, and more like a collective think tank, allowing all of us to learn more and have more fun while doing so. Additionally, as a result of the culture of collaboration, I feel better prepared for college and the real world, where many professions require constant teamwork with employees to enhance productivity.

Another way that the Horace Mann economics curriculum sets itself apart from collegiate Econ 101 courses is its lack of political bias. Some college economics professors are known for imposing their political views on their students. However, the Horace Mann economics curriculum has minimal political bias. Rather than providing me with partisan ideas, the class is equipping me with the knowledge about economic theory necessary for me to make my own political decisions. 

One possibility surrounding the future of economics at Horace Mann is that its curriculum is revamped to focus on other aspects of economics. However, such a course would be both less desirable and less useful to students. Students will want to have a broad introduction to economics under their belt before they dive into greater specifics. Frankly, courses like the history of economics or philosophy and economics will not be appealing to students unless they have already developed an interest in the subject. Courses of that sort also will not have as many real-life applications as the current economics curriculum. Teaching students about the basics of the U.S. tax system and the financial system helps them prepare for life after college. Additionally, by explaining fundamental economic theory, students can gain a better understanding of the economic policies advocated by different political parties, making students better informed future voters.

The school should make an effort to offer economics next year, as it is a unique course that introduces students to a widely popular field at the intersection of several key subjects with substantial real-life applications. The structure of a new economics course should remain similar to the current AP course, as the class fosters high-level collaboration and is taught in an engaging manner that may not be possible at the college level. Taking economics has been the best academic experience I have had at HM, and by continuing to offer the course, many younger students will have the opportunity to have the same high-level collaborative experience.