Serving All Students

On Tuesday, the LAUSD Board will vote on reaffirming its commitment to “A-G Life Preparation for All.” Unfortunately, the title of this resolution is disingenuous as somehow, we have come to confuse “life preparation” with “preparation for college.” While I agree that any LAUSD student who wants access to college preparatory classes should be given the opportunity, we should not pretend that college is the only pathway to success. Any college graduate who is underemployed and struggling to pay off student debt will  certainly attest to the fact that college does not guarantee success. What the LAUSD really needs to do is recommit itself to serving all types of students

The fact is that all students are not interested in, or capable of, attending college. These students should also matter to the district. Yet, the existing plan not only tells them that they must take college preparatory classes, but they must achieve a “C” in order to graduate. What message does this send to students with learning difficulties or who wish to pursue other interests? This is the equivalent of a college only paying attention to those planning to go on to a master's program and the master’s program only serving those who are planning to earn a doctorate. We need to do better.

Another resolution being considered aims to have “zero dropouts in LAUSD.” This is never going to happen if we continue to ignore those students who need access to vocational training. Music and art classes are what keep some students interested in school. I know  it kept me interested in school. But we constantly shortchange these programs. Students spend their entire days preparing for their hypothetical futures while real life skills that are immediately relevant are ignored. Do we really need to ask why our graduation rates are so low?

A high school diploma is the first step towards success in life. When voting on Tuesday, I hope the Board does not sacrifice the chance for all students to achieve this important milestone in an attempt to help some achieve a higher goal.