Letters to the Editor: Stop bashing higher education. It isn’t all about elitism

Graduates participate in their commencement ceremony at USC on May 13, 2022.
Graduates participate in their commencement ceremony at USC on May 13, 2022.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Nicholas Goldberg’s column, “Suddenly, ‘I flunked algebra’ is a ticket to success,” celebrates mediocrity while bashing higher education with the weaponized “elite” label.

I did my graduate work at USC and taught there as a lecturer in computer science at the end of my career. I was an official at every graduation, dressed in my flaming red gown.

It never failed that some parents and grandparents came up to me and thanked me for what I did. Often, their child was the first in their family to go to college. I still get letters from my students; many are from minorities, telling me about their successes.


USC gives scholarships to students who are accepted and can’t afford the exorbitant tuition. I’m sure some patronage occurs, but elitism is not the full story.

David Wilczynski, Manhattan Beach


To the editor: I taught special education in a Los Angeles Unified School District middle school for more than 10 years. Our kids had learning disabilities of every type, but what about 90% also had were major behavioral issues.

The first time I really connected with my kids was the day I told them I had been a terrible student and had not even finished high school. That I was often disruptive and had been kicked out of two high schools. That I had gone on to get a GED and then taken classes at a community college.

My students were always stunned when I told them this. They said they’d never had a teacher who admitted to being less than perfect all their school years.

I told them, bluntly, that I didn’t believe a word of it. I didn’t believe every one of their teachers was never tardy or never failed to turn in an assignment or never talked back.

We all got along beautifully, and a great many of them learned to modify their behavior and went on to regular classes.

Anne Beaty, Los Angeles


To the editor: So LAUSD Board Member Jackie Goldberg, UC Board of Regents Chairman Rich Lieb, Gov. Gavin Newsom and President Biden, among many others, offer their academic disinterest and failures in support of a “growing sense that the old markers of achievement may not be as significant as we thought they were.”

I was recently treated for prostate cancer by one of the top surgeons in the world. Thankfully the surgeon did not consider dropping out of high school and obtaining a GED (Goldberg), scored higher than the bottom 2% in math on the SAT (Lieb), could read well in grade school (Newsom) and had am undergraduate grade average higher than 1.9 (Biden).

Kevin H. Park, Oklahoma City