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Letters to the Editor: The elite defense of higher education is insulting and unmoored from reality

A person jogs along a concrete and brick pathway past a college building.
UCLA’s acceptance of freshmen for fall 2021 fell to about 12% of those who applied.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As a retired teacher I have a different opinion than the letter writers who defended the modern system of higher education. I come from a family of educators, so there is no question about how much I value education.

There seemed to be no acknowledgement of reality in the letters. There were dismissive references to “tracking” and that just having a decent job was not enough, which is quite insulting to the masses that are comfortable and satisfied with making a living that enables them to feel productive.

Most students who aspire to higher education have the public or private resources at their disposal to support them. Unfortunately, some students do not have homes or families supportive of their aspirations.

What if those who didn’t make it had been given a choice to get technical training because there were classes in high school that exposed them to different trade skills? The ability to work in a skilled trade does not automatically classify you as a non-thinking, uninformed, non-discerning person.

The attitudes expressed in these letters were elitist and unrealistic. Our public schools system must offer everyone the chance to succeed.

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Marty Wilson, Whittier

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To the editor: I read the letters that defended college, and not one is connected to reality. For the 28 years of my teaching, almost 40% of my kids had no interest in college, but rather in vocational arts, and I encouraged them every step of the way.

Get over the arrogance that college is the only way, and start appreciating your plumber, contractor or mechanic.

Sandy Mishodek, Running Springs, Calif.

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To the editor: I am an excellent example of someone who didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school. I went to community college before transferring to UCLA and received a degree that afforded me zero help in finding a job.

I went back to community college to become a registered nurse. When I graduated in my late 20s I was offered a job immediately. Along the way I had various jobs to pay the rent and discovered the person into whom I hoped to develop when I grew older.

The people you meet and mingle with along the way help form the person you become. If you are with people who strive for better things — say, a home and financial security — or who are activists, you may decide that is something you want too. What these have in common is that there is hard work involved.

There are people who have degrees and wait for jobs to fall into their laps. So, whatever your education level, get your hands dirty and quit whining.

Cynthia Lerner, Los Angeles


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