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The LAUSD board is considering lowering the passing grade for college prep courses from a C to a D. A vote is scheduled for this Tuesday.

Why?

Because three-fourths of 10th graders will more than likely fail to attain a C or better.

A lack of resources delivering additional instruction to students in need is assumed to be the underlying reason for the 75% who do not make the cut; not a word about lack of parental involvement. Parents need not be subject matter experts to be an effective force to improve classroom performance, but they need to supervise their dependents’ time management.

As far as available LAUSD resources to assist with tutoring or other special instruction, how about reallocating the $73 million for required ethnic studies to help students in need of extra attention?

The board has had a problem with setting priorities. Using construction bond money to buy iPads was the most publicized example in recent years, along with turning classrooms into breakfast facilities.

All of us need to accept one important fact: even if we apply every form of assistance possible, some students – perhaps a significant number – will fail. One important factor is motivation. Some kids have no desire to pursue a rigid academic discipline.

Guess what? It’s their right!

The students who prefer an unchallenging path are smart enough to realize the rewards will be far less, absent some special talent. Some may change their minds after they have been in the workforce as an unskilled laborer. There should be adult education available for those who do.

Also, some students – perhaps many – will have an aptitude better-suited for other worthwhile pursuits. So why not identify those with other inherent abilities and offer them a different track not involving all of the college prep curriculum?

This is not a new concept; it has been batted around for years.

Instead, the LAUSD simply wants to lower the bar.

That is not doing a favor for the D students who will then be ill-prepared for college or any form of skilled labor.

It is also not fair to the C or better students whose academic learning environment is diminished by slackers or classmates disinterested in the subject matter.

Neither is it fair to society. The economy needs a wide variety of skills to support an acceptable quality of life for all. Solving quadratic equations is not necessary for success in many careers.

On a related note, newly elected board member, Scott Schmerelson, has opined on the subject of social promotion. He wants the education community to consider ending it.

I do not assume for one moment that Schmerelson’s view is an all-or-nothing proposition. There are cases where students are struggling with one or two subjects, but are otherwise proficient. They deserve extra assistance and should be allowed to advance at least one time without having satisfied all of the requirements for promotion. However, students who are deficient in more than a couple of subjects should be held back – for their own good and the sake of their classmates and teachers.

The issue of social promotion would not be as controversial if the school system offered an alternative course for students whose interests were a poor match for the college track.

I believe Schmerelson’s presence will bring this issue to the forefront.

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