Steve Lopez: Plans to make Ds a passing grade deserve an F
[Updates have been made to this story]
You get a strange look sometimes when you tell people you send your child to a Los Angeles Unified school. They think you’re either heroic or crazy, when really you’re neither. There are lots of good schools and tons of good teachers.
But yeah, sometimes it’s tough to defend your choice, such as when Howard Blume writes a story like today’s. The one that says district officials are proposing to lower their standards, and count Ds instead of Cs as acceptable in college-prep courses that will be required of all 9th grade students beginning in the fall.
Were Cs not mediocre enough?
Yeah, I get it. The number of dropouts is expected to soar when the new standards go into effect. So some classes will no longer be required.
And Ds will be acceptable, even if a D average in a college-prep class makes you ineligible for admission to four-year state colleges.
Could you send a worse message to kids than to tell them Ds are just fine?
Yeah, I understand the goal is to keep kids from flunking or dropping out, but telling students you don’t really expect much of them could end up being just as corrosive.
Either stick with the original plan, and do what it takes resource-wise to help kids pass with a respectable grade, no matter how difficult that might be given the impending budget cuts. Or drop the requirement altogether, make college-prep courses voluntary, and emphasize vocational skills and basic life skills for those who don’t intend to go to college.
But giving the okay to Ds?
The proposal deserves an F.
Extra credit is available for those who care to share their thoughts.
-- Steve Lopez
Photo: Rosario Lopez, 17, a junior at Los Angeles High School, supports aiming high for graduation requirements. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times