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Academics Should Be a Higher Priority

April 25, 1993

Can you stand yet one more letter from an angry, disillusioned teacher?

I am one of four teachers who two years ago brought a challenging program to Sylmar High School, a school noteworthy for its football team, the number of students recruited by the military and one of the lowest percentages of students matriculating to college.

Our community is composed primarily of hard-working, blue-collar Latinos. For the most part, the students are bright, eager and willing to learn. They experienced academic success and challenges in their Humanitas program, which stressed writing, thinking and problem solving.

Last week, the successful program was destroyed. We were told the numbers were low and that teachers had to be "shifted around."

Teachers and students were at first shocked and then outraged by the destruction of the only innovative academic program at Sylmar High designed to serve the entire population, not just the elite few advanced placement or honor students.

The students protested for two days. They were peaceful, articulate and hopeful--hopeful that someone would listen and save their program. Signs were made. The media were contacted, but nobody came. Apparently, the media only comes to Sylmar High for a sports story.

We learned a lot from this experience. The students learned they are not a priority of the Los Angles Unified School District bureaucracy. They learned they are not entitled to the same program security as advanced placement or honor students. They also learned that the media simply won't respond to a peaceful protest by a group of students from a working-class Latino community.

I learned something too. Academic genocide is being carried out in this city and no one seems to care.

MARINA KAVANAGH

Teacher

Sylmar High School

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