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Calculus and Shop for Schools

April 13, 2002

Re "In Our Schools, Cosmetology Is No Substitute for Calculus," Commentary, April 8: I am in agreement with LAUSD school board member Genethia Hudley-Hayes that it's totally wrong not to have advanced mathematics classes at Fremont High School. As a member of the superintendent's Focus on Student Achievement Council, I have continually brought up the subject of the inequity of Advanced Placement offerings by school and by track. For the past three years, we start to address this issue and, for various reasons, the committee breaks up and we have to start over. We are just starting to address the equality of Advanced Placement classes again.

Why is an auto shop teacher concerned with Advanced Placement courses? Because we need to meet the needs of all of our students. We need to have classes for the students who want to go to a four-year college as well as the students who want to enter the work force. This should not be an us-versus-them issue. This should be all of us working together to educate the students. It is wrong not to give all students access to Advanced Placement courses, and it is wrong not to give all students access to vocational education.

Tom Marshall

Marshall High School, L.A.

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In decrying the absence of Advanced Placement classes at overcrowded inner-city Fremont High School, Hudley-Hayes overlooks the opportunity for motivated students to apply for places in LAUSD's well-regarded magnet school system. Not every school has to offer college prep programs. LAUSD needs to recognize that there are students all over the city who belong in vocational education classes--which do not exist at most college prep schools.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to find a good plumber, a good car mechanic or a competent handyman, perhaps our educators will discover that the classes teaching these important skills that lead to relatively well-paying, stable jobs belong in our curriculum.

Karen Heller Mason

Los Angeles

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Hudley-Hayes writes that Fremont has six cosmetology classes and no advanced math classes; that inner-city schools have fewer fully credentialed teachers, fewer AP courses and more run-down and overcrowded schools than affluent parts of the district. Together these cause permanent second-class status. She states that SB 1731 will enable all students to have equal opportunities for post-secondary education. Extremely laudable goals. If only she had the pull, say by being a member of the Board of Education and making policy, to get the LAUSD going in this direction before legislation passes. Oh, wait a minute, she already is. What's her excuse then?

Michael Berkowitz

Calabasas

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