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Opinion

Readers React: Is 100% college readiness aspirational or just unrealistic?

LOS ANGELES, CA – May 2, 2018: New Los Angeles Unified School District leader Austin Beutner with M
Mónica García, LAUSD board president, with Superintendent Austin Beutner
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As a former school district administrator, I am dismayed to read of LAUSD board President Monica Garcia’s resolution, “Realizing the Promise for All: Close the Gap by 2023.”

Although the original resolution included admirable goals such as “all” K-6 English learners achieving fluency by the end of sixth grade, and “all” third-graders meeting or exceeding California state standards on statewide standardized testing, it was just another impossible benchmark that hearkens back to the days of “No Child Left Behind.”

I am not a pessimist, simply a realist. I learned a long time ago, both in my professional and personal lives that setting impossible goals inevitably leads to failure. Using terms like “all” and “every student” is a recipe for failure, because each student has different strengths and weaknesses. Lofty goals may be a good thing, but the expectation of 100% conformity is not.

Lisa Bloom, Valencia

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To the editor: If the Los Angeles Unified School District’s renewed commitment to preparing every student in the district to attend college were merely absurd, one could drop it in the catch-all bureaucratic hyperbole file and ignore it.

Unfortunately, serious attention is required because not only is the goal itself inherently demeaning (i.e. only those who go to college are/can be successful) to many L.A. Unified students, but the implementation of it will necessarily educationally disenfranchise those students who don’t have college in their futures.

All students are entitled to an education that prepares them to be successful after graduation to the extent of their abilities and interests.The L.A. Unified students who lack the capacity to do well in college prep course standards are inevitably condemned to academic failure and the attendant frustration and depression such failure engenders.

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Whether these students become dropouts or unsuccessful graduation candidates, all of them have been deprived of an education that could have prepared them for a successful life.

Carolyn Magnuson, Long Beach

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To the editor: Wow! Impressive! L.A. Unified is going to graduate all students “college ready” and with at least one college level class by 2023. And they will do this despite funding problems that will raise high school class sizes to 50 as per the front page article the same day about L.A. Unified financial woes. They will also find a way to hire and retain qualified instructors to teach these enormous classes. These same instructors who may find their pensions in jeopardy.

Sarah Cooper, Redondo Beach

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To the editor: In 2005, the LAUSD adopted a plan to have all students take college-prep classes. In December 2015 a new superintendent and L.A. Unified were facing a public relations meltdown of epic proportions. By the district’s own calculations only about half of the seniors were on track to graduate in 2016.

What did L.A. Unified do? It weakened the requirement and spent $15 million on computerized credit-recovery courses. And in only six months, this desperate action of peer panic pulled off the the farcical result of the best graduation rate in decades.

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Showing no shame, LAUSD did the same thing the next year as well. Now we hear that the school board is revisiting the debacle of 2004 by mandating every student graduate meet the “requirements to enroll in one of the state’s public four year universities.”

This has nothing to do with kids. This has nothing to do with true reforms that can raise student achievement.

Raising graduation and college success rates is accomplished by offering a personalized education and granting a diploma that comes with valuable transferable skills to match the college and career dreams of every student.

Jack Oakes, Santa Ana

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