Opinion

Cal state's new course plan: no, not 'back to basics'

To the editor: Why are the 25,000 students being admitted in the first place? ("Cal State to revamp freshman course plan," Aug. 4)

Students not prepared for the curriculum of a Cal State school should be directed to a community college. To make special allowances for them is adding a burden on the students who are ready, and as noted setting them up for frustration.

Sean Clough, Santa Ana

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To the editor: Having taught math at Cal State Long Beach for 30 years, I feel that in assessing CSU's recent efforts to improve its graduation rates by dropping remedial algebra and English, ask yourself if you want to be operated on by a doctor who graduated from a med school without passing basic anatomy?

Lowering the bar for college graduation moves us closer to a post-truth and post-fact society.

James D. Stein, Redondo Beach

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To the editor: So it seems that the Cal State University system is going to drop remedial classes and placement exams in math and English, starting in the fall of 2018. And what will be the result?

Faculty outside of math and English will quickly see a decline in clarity as well as basic language command, and, a few years later, employers will get the same taste of poor writing skills and comprehension. The value of a Cal State degree will rather quickly be stained.

Having taught writing classes at Cal Poly Pomona from 1986 until this June, I can say with certainty that the ambitions of Cal State administrators to double the number of their graduates by 2025, will come at great cost.

When you consider the number of functional illiterates as well as pure Google copiers pouring out of our high schools these days, without hands-on writing courses for remedial students, the results can be easily predictable for the redesigned remedial requirements.

Sadly, the big losers will be the students.

Glen T. Golden, San Dimas

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To the editor: So many Cal State freshmen aren't ready for college work, so the solution to the problem of low graduation rates is to drop the requirement they take remedial classes to get them the math and English skills they need to succeed?

What are they teaching at Cal State that doesn't require fundamental reading, writing and math skills? Advanced Twitter palaver and Instagram photography 101?

And the more fundamental question: How is it that 25,000 students entering the Cal system each year are being graduated from high schools without the basic math and English skills needed for college?

Seems to me the community and state colleges should be asking high schools to step up and graduate kids who can read and write, not making plans to dumb down, and devalue, higher education.

James Hergenrather, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Why does Cal State even accept students who need remedial writing or remedial math? That's what the junior college system is for.

I suppose it is hardly worth asking why high schools are even giving diplomas to students who need remedial writing or remedial math.

Judith Bloom, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: Remember when college acceptance was based on actual achievement, using high school grades, ACT and SAT scores to determine if students could handle the rigors of college?

And remember when we actually got rejection letters because some colleges felt we weren't prepared enough to keep up with their curriculum?

Now, in an effort to have more graduates and to not make incoming freshmen feel bad about themselves, Cal State will be dropping remedial courses, even if incoming students don't measure up to minimum freshman standards of preparation in at least English and math.

So what if a mechanic knew most of the procedures in assembling an engine but made a mistake because he never mastered math? It's no big deal unless that engine happens to be outside your window during takeoff.

Jill Chapin, Santa Monica

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To the editor: I was a high school mathematics teacher for 35 years. I’ve seen the placement exams at local colleges. They are much easier than the final exams for algebra and geometry given in most high schools.

In some cases a student can pass theses exams with much less than 70% correct, the standard for a “C” grade in high schools. The rate of passing these placement exams would be much lower if the high school standard was used.

Schools — secondary and college — are not doing students any favors by giving them diplomas without a mastery of basic math and English.

Steve Murray, Huntington Beach

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