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Letters: Hard lessons

August 20, 2013
  • Kashawn Campbell grew up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in South Los Angeles. Yet he became a straight-A student at Jefferson High School. But at UC Berkeley, he found challenges far greater than he anticipated.
Kashawn Campbell grew up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in South Los… (Los Angeles Times )

Re “Struggling at the crossroads,” Column One, Aug. 16

My heart aches for Kashawn Campbell, but let's be real: Does anyone who read this article really believe he belongs at UC Berkeley? He's completely lost in his college writing course; does anyone really believe he'll graduate?

Shame on the utterly dysfunctional school system that confers perfect GPAs on kids who, as your article said, do one hour of homework a night and turn in one-page essays. And double shame on the defenders of affirmative action quotas who would create tens of thousands of academically doomed Kashawn Campbells just for the sake of appearances.

E.G. Rice
Marina del Rey

My heart goes out to this student and his family about his experience at UC Berkeley. It's a familiar story I heard as a community college physical science professor. Many well-behaved, hopeful, respectful freshmen would arrive in my classroom with high hopes, only to be shocked by the real world of college expectancy.

Community colleges are the perfect transition for students like Kashawn who are bright, motivated and serious but lack some of the basic skills that are expected for studies at the university level. They offer remedial classes in English, math and other subjects as well as highly academic courses that transfer to major universities.

D.D. Trent
La Crescenta

Campbell may not have been required to develop writing skills in high school. Graduating salutatorian with this educationally significant deficit is curious to me. I am a retired teacher, and after reading this excellent article about a remarkable young man, I was left to wonder whether he has a learning disability in the area of writing.

Joan Bushee

If he can graduate from Jefferson High as “the most likely to succeed” and the senior class salutatorian and go on to UC Berkeley, why can't he write a straightforward sentence of English?

In his freshman year, according to the story, an abysmal 13% of Jefferson's students were proficient in English, less than 1% in math. The reality at Jefferson, multiplied by the number of district schools, paints a truly horrifying picture of the future.

Jack Grimshaw
Dana Point

I think most accusations of racism are false, but now I find myself the author of one. How would you feel if you were 18 or 19 years old and a major newspaper ran a front-page story about what a failure, and how stupid, you were?

William F. Magaletta
La Puente

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