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Package could help students

July 19, 2007

Re "A safety net for dropouts," editorial, July 17

The most encouraging part of the proposed legislative package is belated recognition of the importance of career and technical education as a way of keeping students in school. For too long, vocational education was treated as a stepchild. Although all students deserve the opportunity to attend college, not all have the interest or ability. It comes as no surprise that forcing them to pursue a purely academic curriculum results in appalling dropout rates.

If Alan Blinder, former vice chairman of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System, is correct, the only secure jobs in the next two decades will be those that cannot be sent abroad electronically. When students see a direct connection between their classes and their futures, they'll stay in school.

WALT GARDNER

Los Angeles

The writer taught in L.A. schools and lectured at the UCLA Graduate School of Education.

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The legislation presupposes that schools are solely responsible for reducing dropout rates. Providing financial and other incentives to schools to make classes more relevant to the lives of students is fine, but it is insufficient. The other part of the equation is holding students partly responsible for their own success.

Nearly 30 years of empirical research shows that intrinsic or internal motivation to learn is far more effective than the promise of rewards for schools. The motivation to learn is formed early in life by parents, caretakers and the like. This cannot be instilled by legislation but is the responsibility of parents and students. Students and parents should take some responsibility and not blame schools or teachers alone for failure.

CHRISTOPHER WAYNE WILLIAMS

Valencia

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