Dueling headlines this week about proposed high school graduation requirements for the nation's second largest public school system:
From the Los Angeles Times:
From the Los Angeles Daily News
This is latest fallout from the Gates Foundation bullying the LA school board in 2005 to require that to graduate from high school, students must pass with at least a C all the "A-G courses," such as Algebra II, required to be eligible for the University of California or California State University. And, yet, by law, those systems are intended for the top 1/3rd of California high school graduates.
The Gates Foundation was deep into Magical Thinking, and school bureaucracies are not flush with incisive thinkers who have an La Griffe du Lion-like grasp of the impact of rule changes on probability distributions. Implementing this plan has been delayed, year-after-year, in large part due to one elderly black lady on the School Board, Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. Her view is that a lot of her constituents aren't college material, but she'd like them to be able to go through life as high school graduates, which is a lot better than going through life as a high school dropout just because they aren't college material.
The Daily News reports:
By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer
All Los Angeles Unified high school students would have to take advanced courses such as algebra, physics and a foreign language and earn at least a "C" in order to graduate under a sweeping change in curriculum being considered by the school board.
The proposal outlined Tuesday is part of an effort to make every LAUSD graduate meet the minimum standards for admission to the UC and CSU systems.
Besides requiring the advanced courses, students would have to earn a "C" in those classes to get their diplomas. Currently, LAUSD considers "D" to be a passing grade.
To help students meet those tough new standards, the district would shrink the graduation requirement from 230 to 170 units, making it optional to take any electives, such as health or technology classes.
A one year course is ten credits, so, currently, students take six classes a year for their first three years, and five as a senior (assuming they pass everything). This would reduce requirement for graduation to three years (6, 6, and 5 = 17), leaving time to take Chemistry, Physics, Geometry/Trig, or Algebra II over.
That would leave students' schedules open to repeat classes or get tutoring during the school day, officials said, because summer school is no longer an option after budget cuts. ...
But several board members and a dozen speakers voiced opposition to eliminating the requirement to take some electives, particularly the health-education class. Typically taken by ninth-graders, the class covers such topics as nutrition, AIDS/HIV, pregnancy, mental health, obesity, diabetes, bullying and teen relationships.
LAUSD has been pondering the college prep A-G curriculum for several years. The Board of Education passed in 2005 a nonbinding resolution recommending that every student entering ninth grade be required to pass it, beginning in 2012. Nothing was done until last year, when Aquino was tasked with coming up with a plan.
In 2005, some teachers urged the board not to approve the college prep plan, as many LAUSD students were not able to meet basic academic requirements and there was concern the new curriculum might lead to more dropouts. LAUSD already has an estimated 50 percent dropout rate.
The challenge facing the district in implementing A-G and getting students to pass it with a "C" is demonstrated with an analysis of the Class of 2011. Had the new standards been in place, roughly 8,000 of the 53,900 students in the class would have met the requirement.
In other words, an 85% dropout rate!