Admission Standards

We strongly disagree with our faculty colleague Prof. Rodolfo Acuna’s criticism (Letters, Jan. 12) of the California State Chancellor Ann Reynolds and the board of trustees for their efforts to raise admission standards. We believe that the chancellor and the board of trustees are wise in their move toward more demanding high school course preparation for entry to the CSU, and that minority and other students will be more likely to attend and be successful in college if they have been given solid preparation in high school. We do a disservice by admitting poorly prepared students who are likely to fail.

Furthermore, it is of critical importance that those students who decide not to attend post-secondary institutions have an exposure to basic subjects in high school.

The Legislature, Gov. George Deukmejian and Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig have taken much the same view as Chancellor Reynolds and the trustees by requiring more rigorous high school graduation standards for all California high school students. As a result of these new requirements, most high school graduates will already meet the projected CSU standards. Moreover, high school students and counselors have been given ample time to prepare for these new requirements.

The California State University and, we believe, Superintendent Honig, the Legislature, and the governor are committed to working with the high schools in recruiting students from all under-represented minority groups and to assuring that they have a successful college experience. Examples of their ongoing efforts include academic partnership legislation, budget proposals to recruit minority students, creation of a CSU Remediation Task Force, and a major study and recommendations concerning Hispanic under-representation in the CSU.


In his preoccupation with predictions of “doom,” Acuna failed to note the foregoing points. He also failed to point out that any student not admitted to the CSU can attend a community college and have every opportunity to qualify for later transfer to a university. No minority students will be denied access because of the proposed strengthening of admissions requirements; rather, they will enter the CSU with strong academic preparation and maximum chances to succeed.

We believe that the faculty of the CSU share Acuna’s concern over the challenges posed for minority students by higher admission standards and intend to do all that we can, in cooperation with Chancellor Reynolds, her staff and the board of trustees, to assure solid preparation in the high schools, continued access to the CSU, and increased success once students gain entry.


Long Beach


Goldstein is chair of the executive committee of the Academic Senate of the California State University. The letter also was signed by James Highsmith, vice chair; Hal Charnofsky, secretary, and Carol Barnes and Nichols P. Hardeman, members-at-large.

As a sophomore student at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, I too am concerned about the proposed tightening of admission standards by the California State University System. As Acuna points out, it’s unlikely that high school programs in black and Latino areas will be able to prepare their students adequately for such new standards; consequently, fewer of these minority students will be able to enter the CSU System.

Yet another ominous effect of the CSU admissions ploy should not be overlooked either: namely, a “knee-jerk” response by many other high school districts to “upgrade” their already demanding curricula. Since the contents of these programs are dictated, not by the teachers, but by the local district boards, the results could be disastrous.

Currently, the leitmotif of these programs is rapid “exposure” to advanced concepts or “accelerated learning”, rather than mastery of fundamentals. But one has to wonder whether Milton’s “Paradise Lost” or Plato’s Republic” can be properly handled in one or two class sessions!

Also, my father tells me that the math I’m learning in 10th grade was first-year college material in his day. My point is this: if any further change are to be made, they should be formulated by the classroom teachers, not by school boards.

I would suggest also that the CSU admissions proposal is grounded mainly in concerns about “image.” If Chancellor Reynolds and other trustees of the CSU System want to improve their image, there are three worthwhile steps they can take: (1) keep a vigilant eye on the contents of their course offerings; (2) maintain and extend their reputation for high standards in student grading; and (3) seriously consider the development of solid Ph.D. programs, without which no post-secondary educational institution is truly a university.


Huntington Beach