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In defense of vocational schools

March 30, 2007

Re " 'Diploma mill' curbs to expire," March 26

The Times article utilized sweeping generalization to portray vocational schools in a very negative light. Yes, there may be some bad apples, but not every school is like that.

As the associate director and job placement director for 14 years at the Adelante Career Institute, a small vocational school in the San Fernando Valley, I can tell you that we are in the business of changing people's lives for the better. We nurture our students, provide them with all types of assistance and do everything possible to help them succeed.

Many of our students come from chaotic homes with few resources. They need a small classroom environment where everyone knows them and can help them to succeed.

Our school does have a 90% placement rate for the last 14 years in most programs and a completion rate above 80%.

FRAN LYONS

Van Nuys

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As the California Legislature struggles with how to improve our state's for-profit colleges, we need to create incentives for quality education as judged against real-world criteria.

We need an objective measure of which schools are helping students achieve their goals. Here's how: Graduates from these colleges should be required to submit data on the quality of job interviews and hiring prospects that their colleges have generated. Popular firms in each field should also respond to surveys ranking which schools train the best people. Local and statewide data can be collected to compare school rankings and success rates. All the schools would provide local and statewide data -- including their own ranking and success rates -- to all applicants and prospective students.

By creating incentives based on student goals, we can significantly improve the quality of education in California's for-profit colleges.

RICH HALVORSON

Santa Monica

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