The call to lower graduation standards in the Los Angeles Unified School District reminds me of a conversation I had with a representative of the construction industry seven years ago, back when the school board was first considering requiring all students to take the full series of college-preparatory classes in order to earn a diploma.
His group favored the switch to a college-prep requirement because the sequence of courses known as "A through G" would also prepare students better for jobs that don't require a college degree. Precious few of L.A. Unified's graduates could pass the written test for his group's apprenticeship program in construction because they lacked the math skills.
I asked him what was required to pass that test, and he said Algebra I and some Geometry. That was curious because those courses already were required for a high school diploma in L.A. Unified; the college-prep requirement added a third year of high school math to that, Algebra II.
When told that the students already had to pass the two courses he had mentioned to graduate, he at first refused to believe that was true. Then he said that although the students might be taking the courses, they sure weren't learning the material.