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'Teachers Must Never Give Up'

February 03, 1988

Prompted by McKenna's article, permit me to enter the discussion on quality and public education.

In the spring of 1975, Garfield High School underwent its periodic review by the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges. The accreditation team found over 90 violations of educational procedures and indicated to the Los Angeles Board of Education that it intended to remove accreditation from the school and the district.

A compromise was reached in which the school district would remove all of the administrative team at the school. In turn, the WASC team would permit two one-year probationary periods to correct the situation.

I was assigned to Garfield High School from another principalship and was permitted to select a new administrative team.

During the two years of probation, the entire staff and parent advisory groups at Garfield High School addressed the violations by implementing major changes.

After two years, the school had vision, direction and purpose with which an already established and competent staff could take pride.

Before school opened in September, 1975, every student was assigned a program.

Over 500 students roaming the campus were rounded up in those first few days. Those young adults were 18 to 25 years old. Subsequently, we learned that many of them created the mayhem, murder, and drug selling which had been a part of the school's existence.

The message to these individuals was clear. If you are serious about schooling, we will counsel you into an adult program; if you are not, stay out.

The issue is not whether students are kicked out. The issues are whether accepting student behavior on the students' terms delivers blatant mediocrity and whether a school shall have standards which all students are expected to meet.

All students--black, Latino, Asian or white--must be required to meet societal standards because as educators we know that students can meet these standards when it is expected of them.

PAUL M. POSSEMATO

Los Angeles

(The writer is now associate superintendent of the Policy Implementation and Evaluation Unit in the L.A. Unified School District.)

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