California’s troubled economy — the state is on track to run out of cash in a matter of weeks unless drastic measures are enacted— has taken another victim in education: high expectations.
The board at Santa Ana Unified School District, the largest school system in Orange County, has been discussing and will likely move forward with a plan to reduce the number of credits required to graduate from 240 to 220, dropping them from the district with the most stringent requirements to among the lowest in the county.
In 2008, the district’s graduation rate was 83 percent, which district officials say would have been bumped to 87 percent or higher under the proposed plan.
With about 56 percent of its roughly 52,000 students classified as English Language Learners, the district argues the change would give them a better a chance at succeeding, while providing all students more flexibility in choosing their classes.
While all of that is true, it seems like the real reason is lack of funding. Ironically, the district had increased it’s graduation requirements in 2001, in concert with a pilot program it had launched to increase the high school day from six to seven periods.
The district has since dropped that program and its hopes of expanding it districtwide as the state’s financial situation has worsened.
“The main goal is to ensure all students graduate,” Jennifer Ruvalcaba, a counselor at one of the district’s high school’s told the Orange County Register.
Yes, but shouldn’t the goal also be to ensure all students are competitive? This isn’t a slam on Santa Ana, which like all districts in California are struggling just to survive, but an admonishment to California legislators for letting its school system continue to slip, one credit at a time.
Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor