To the editor: Yes, removing remedial English and math from the California State University curriculum may boost graduation rates, but is it really preparing students for the more difficult college courses they will take later in their studies? ("How to boost Cal State graduation rates without cheapening the degree," editorial, Sept. 18)
Getting rid of remedial courses and placement exams is simply another shortcut to raise the number of students getting degrees. If passing enough classes to graduate were easy, everyone would have degrees.
I am a first-generation student who benefited from remedial classes. In particular, remedial English was very helpful in preparing me to write competently for college-level classes. I say the same thing for remedial math, which gives students a good understanding of the basics that they will need for life.
Being placed in a remedial class should not be seen as a delay to graduation but rather an opportunity to learn and grow. Why the rush to graduate?
Katherine Luna, Los Angeles
To the editor: As an educator who has worked in K-12 public education and as an instructor in local university graduate programs for more than 30 years, I am troubled by the recent decision by the Cal State system to remove remedial courses and placement tests in English and math.
Though not regularly, I was often troubled that there were university students in my classes who appeared to be incapable of writing a simple declarative sentences and sadly deficient in their overall communications skills.
The editorial correctly points out that in some cases, with their zeal to increase graduation rates, high schools could be passing on students deficient in English and math to Cal State, from which they will eventually graduate while never fixing those deficiencies.
Stu Bernstein, Santa Monica
To the editor: It sure sounds to me as if liberal arts degrees are being dumbed down when a student says he or she just isn't smart enough to pass Algebra II.
I have a bachelor of arts degree, and I'll bet cash money that I, without a teaching credential, can get any college student through an intermediate algebra class — any college student. Liberal arts degrees are already nearly valueless in this increasingly technocratic world and insultingly demeaned in a workplace where a bachelor's of science, ridiculously framed in solid gold, is worth its weight in antimatter.
How many people know that it only takes one English class to get a science degree? If that isn't dumbed down, I'd like to know what is. Furthermore, have you ever read an unedited technical document, or had to illustrate one? Well, I have, and on many such occasions I would rather have been dead than be forced to do it again.
Ronald Webster, Long Beach