The Los Angeles School District has bolted from the challenge it set itself in 2004, when they wanted it to be mandatory for all students to pass college-prep courses before they graduated high school. Tuesday, the district changed course, saying it was only necessary for students to get a D grade on such courses in order to graduate. Why did the district put its tail between its legs? They’re worried that students would drop out. Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino said, "If we don't do something, we have to be prepared to be pushing out kids as dropouts … We face a massive dropout rate in four years."
California's public universities require a C or better for admission, which does seem to be a problem. The district is apparently buying time; spokesmen for the district asserted that they hope to return to the mandatory C grade by the class of 2017.
Gerardo Loera, the district's executive director of curriculum and instruction, defended the decision; "We're not considering this as an ideal solution … it's a creative solution with the amount of resources we have." LAUSD spends nearly $30,000 per student per year.
This lowering of standards covered by the fig-leaf of graduation is reflective of a society that gives up on its future; and the leadership in the White House doesn’t help. As President Obama said earlier this year:
Today, we’re still home to the world’s most productive workers. We’re still home to the world’s most innovative companies. But for most Americans, the basic bargain that made this country great has eroded. Long before the recession hit, hard work stopped paying off for too many people.
The message conveyed was, you can work hard, but it won’t pay off anyway. With messages like that, it is no wonder that incentivizing students by raising the standards is a futile gesture; those who run the nanny state don’t want to encourage the students to work harder. Unprepared students become dependent adults--just what the nanny state wants.