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Learning Skills for the Real World

April 03, 2002

"Pupils Shunted to Vocational Ed Fear It Can Derail College Dreams" (March 27), about LAUSD students in vocational classes, unfairly portrayed the Regional Occupational Program as a dumping ground for students, denying some their chances of attending college. The ROP strives to improve the prospects for all students, including those planning to attend college. Many adolescents have little idea of what it takes to achieve their dreams, and a ROP class provides important insights about the discipline and work ethic needed.

Fewer than 25% of Americans over 25 have a four-year college degree. For three-quarters of Americans, life after high school means going to work. High school is often the last opportunity to get the free training they need to secure meaningful employment. Many students who do go to college will need a job to afford it.

Of course, students end up in ROP classes who don't want to be there. (Same for algebra.) But why malign the program? If students are being misguided into vocational classes, it's indicative of an overburdened system. But give the ROP credit for answering the call of Californians who say that public schools need to better prepare students for the work force.

Evan Bartelheim

Program Manager

LAUSD Regional Occupational Program, Los Angeles

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Your article was about schools in poor areas where counselors have 600 to 700 students who cannot get the guidance they need. I live in a relatively affluent area and, yes, our high school counselors have 600 to 700 students. This is the reality in public high schools today. Only if the parents--or in some cases the students--are savvy, motivated and assertive will the students transition to college successfully.

Cheryl Kohr

Redondo Beach

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