The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal to require students to take classes that will qualify them for admission to the California State University and University of California systems.
Under current guidelines, students must take algebra and geometry classes to graduate high school. CSU and UC admission policies, however, require that students also take intermediate algebra and two years of a foreign language.
Under the proposal, all students would meet the CSU and UC admission requirements upon graduation because they would have to take the additional classes.
The proposal, which was introduced by school board President Jose Huizar, is opposed by board member Julie Korenstein.
“I am opposed to mandating them, but I am extremely in favor of every student having access to the . . . requirements if they want to take them,” Korenstein said. She said she is worried that the proposal might increase dropout rates in LAUSD high schools, which are about 50 percent.
“For those who choose not to go to college, there need to be other career paths,” Korenstein said.
Korenstein said students who are interested in vocational careers, such as carpentry or automotive service, are not going to benefit from the proposed requirements.
Huizar was unavailable to comment on the proposal.
Sandra Cruz, principal of Grant High School in Valley Glen, said students need to be made aware of their options early in their high school careers.
“I made a commitment that every single student would know their options,” Cruz said. Grant High School schedules orientation assemblies each semester so that students are fully aware of their different academic options, she said.
“I had to find my own route to college in this district,” Cruz said. “I think it’s morally unethical not to give every single student access to (the) requirements.”
Cruz said her high school counselor told her, “You don’t need to go to college. You are going to be the best secretary.”
The proposal also looks to address the fact that some students are left unaware of the impact that certain course selection has on their academic future.
“My perspective is that you have to take care of all of the requirements if you want to go to college,” said Silva Terjanyan, a junior at Grant High School. “It just depends on the person.”
Terjanyan said she believes students should take an active role in their academic futures and look for information about college and academic planning on campus, in addition to what is given out to students by school officials.
Kristine Madaryan, a freshman at James Monroe High School, said she was never given information on the classes she was placed in.
“(School officials) just said I had to take these classes,” Madaryan said. “They never told me why.”
Madaryan plans to fulfill the requirements regardless of the results of Tuesday’s vote. She said it might be hard for other students to adjust to the change if the requirements become mandated.
Allan Paul Shatkin, an adviser at St. Genevieve High School in Panorama City, said it is the responsibility of individual high schools to prepare students for college. St. Genevieve is a private, college preparatory high school that requires all students to pass courses that colleges require in order to graduate.
“I don’t understand why it’s not (the) policy already,” Shatkin said. He said high dropout rates in high school can be traced back to elementary school for many students, and that something should be done.
“How low can we set the bar?” Shatkin said.
Huizar’s proposal calls for a “realignment and dedication of resources necessary beginning early enough in a student’s education so that they are prepared to successfully complete the . . . requirement course sequence.” In addition, teachers will be given support to implement the plan.
If the proposal is not approved, Korenstein said the school board will ensure access and availability to all the classes offered within both options.