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High School Diploma Must Have Meaning

October 09, 2002

Starting with the words "penalty" and "blame" ("Diploma Penalty Misplaces Blame," by Jeannie Oakes and John Rogers, Opinion, Oct. 6), the authors beg the question of whether the high school exit exam is designed to be a punishment. The requirement that students master key skills before exiting high school is a reform, as much as the push to fully credential teachers. Thus Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Roy Romer has proposed accommodating seniors who have failed the exit exam with an additional year of adult school.

Reforms that are difficult are, nevertheless, reforms. After all, what good is a diploma, to the student or to society, if it does not accurately reflect achievement?

Doug Lasken

Woodland Hills

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In other times, students could be expelled for misbehavior, flunked for inattention or retained in one grade level until they learned the required syllabus. Having deprived the schools of these useful sanctions, we demand that they replace the "stick" not with a carrot but with a lobster dinner.

Creating an environment where nothing can be blamed on the student will assure that a sizable fraction of students remain belligerent, inattentive and irresponsible.

Mimi Gerstell

Louise King

Pasadena

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