The Times' editorial of July 18 ("It's College, Not a Big High School") nibbles at the edge of an issue that it should be taking a big bite out of, but, considering the foul taste, maybe a nibble is all it can stomach.
As reported July 17, more than 13,000 of the 22,013 freshmen who entered the California State University system in 1993--60%--failed exams in English or math or both and had to take remedial courses. It is critical to note that this group of freshmen represents the best and brightest of California's senior class--they are drawn from the top one-third. Their failure to perform at a college level after four years of A's and Bs in college-preparatory classes doesn't mean they lack the ability to learn, it means that the high schools that have received more than $16,000 per student for the previous four years deserve a grade of F for the miserable job they have done in preparing these bright students for college.
Open access without education standards is academic fraud. It is high time that parents looked at more than glowing progress reports and the A's and Bs on their child's high school report card as evidence that the child is being taught properly. Expect more. Insist on more.
JAMES NILES, President-Elect
Mesa Union School District
So, Cal State University officials are going to deny admission to students who fail to meet "college-level" math and English skills. One can equate this to the Department of Motor Vehicles demanding that applicants learn how to drive a car before obtaining a license. Why are these students allowed to attend college when they haven't accomplished high school minimums?
The real fault lies with the school system that allegedly "educated" these college students. Nobody with a teaching credential will tell you that these students fell behind academically during their senior year in high school. The truth of the matter is that students are allowed to continue on to the next grade level despite their abysmal academic performance. Arguments can be made about who is to blame; but I see the clear and convincing truth. Educators are not holding back the students who fall below average in the mandated topics.
JAMES L. RAHM
The state sacrifices education in every budget: Children are expendable. School districts with an art program or the champion football team attract more students. Some come for the academics, others for the special programs; regardless, the district receives more money. Each year, that school receives an influx of bright and ambitious students. Meanwhile, other schools lose their best students. They lose money from the state. They score lower. The school gaining students receives the blue ribbon award, and its students compete for the "ivies." Ironically, the award-winning school isn't diversified and has race-related problems.
The students from the ignored schools enter the CSU system lacking "college readiness in math and English." We don't give these students the opportunities afforded at the award-winning school. Unfortunately, these students tend to be minorities. Gov. Pete Wilson wants to change the affirmative action programs regarding college admissions. From birth, these kids are not given an "equal playing field." We need to give our public schools more funding so that everyone can have the opportunities that I've had.
STEPHANIE KATE TREADWELL