Readers React

LAUSD's college-prep curriculum: Does it help or hurt?

To the editor: I was appalled to read that "not all students are interested in college, and there will always be jobs that don't require it." Whose children do you suppose those students should be? Yours? ("L.A. Unified needs to do its homework on college-prep standards," editorial, May 10)

Additionally, we don't leave important life-changing decisions to 13- or 14-year-olds. Why would we allow children to decide their "interests" when they enter high school?

I see my job as an educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District as providing all options and possibilities. I want my students to have the option of going to a California State or University of California school. Without the A-G college-prep curriculum, they don't all have that option.

We limit our children by dwelling on what they can't do; we have to exploit and build on what they can. To do that, teachers need time, so eliminate useless student testing, structure professional development responsive to the needs of each school site and work to achieve better results.

I prefer that to teaching students that the solution to a seemingly insurmountable obstacle is to lower expectations.

Joel M. Freedman, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I am a good math learner. I was an enthusiastic student in AP calculus in high school and I use advanced algebra and statistics in my work a great deal. But The Times' statement that "not everybody needs advanced algebra" is correct.

Research by Michael Handel, reported in the Atlantic in 2013, shows that only about 9% of all jobs demand any algebra beyond the first year.

Advanced math should be offered in high school, but it should not be required for college admission. Those who later discover a need for it are free to study advanced algebra any time in their lives.

Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles

The writer is a professor emeritus of education at USC.

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To the editor: We math teachers have been complaining for years that college prep for all is a disaster.

Half the students in my algebra and geometry classes have no idea what I'm teaching. The standard reply from administrators is to remediate. Basic math was a one-year course that was dropped years ago. Without basic math, most students cannot grasp algebra and geometry.

Another response from administrators is that they won't be the ones to tell a student he or she can't go to college. However, fewer than 10% of low-income students graduate from college. It's time that L.A. Unified quit dead-ending the other 90%.

Bob Munson, Newbury Park

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