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Are the LAUSD’s online makeup courses devaluing its diplomas?

To the editor: The Los Angeles Unified School District’s online credit-recovery courses for students who fail classes and are in danger of not graduating deserve more scrutiny. (“What’s really in LAUSD’s online credit recovery courses?” editorial, June 19)

As a high school teacher, I feel that a lot of what goes on in public education is a bunch of smoke and mirrors that give the illusion of learning. Grade inflation and remedial courses have become so rampant that it almost takes more skill not to earn a diploma than it does to get one.

I’ve seen students make up a semester’s worth of credits in a school year’s final month and then miraculously earn their diplomas. I’ve seen kids who don’t even know their multiplication tables or how to reduce a fraction pass algebra (on paper, at least). At my school, teachers’ D and F ratios are increasingly being scrutinized, encouraging grade inflation.

What’s the point of patting ourselves on the back for improved graduation rates if the diploma itself is highly devalued?

Mario Gonzalez, Palmdale

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To the editor: As technology changes, so does the delivery of curricular materials. As the editorial points out, “online credit recovery can and should be a helpful tool.” But, of course, the same can be said of much of educational technology today.

What hasn’t changed over the historic span of education is the importance of the attention of a caring mentor in each student’s academic life.

The Times suggests several ways to monitor the LAUSD’s online credit recovery program. But perhaps the most effective means of adding accountability as well as personal caring to the credit recovery process is to ensure that each student has a mentor with whom he or she is actively engaged in the glorious, yet disciplined, unfolding of his or her own mind.

Ben Miles, Huntington Beach

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