California breaking golden
Richard W. Whitrock
Sometime soon in California, high school
students in several Northern Los Angeles schools will not be able to attend
college or military bound after graduation.
Supporters of the measure point to the
extra incentive that being left out of graduation would provide, believing
that threats and negative
reinforcement are good ideas. They say
that the measure actually increases the amount of students going to college,
and therefore the number
of students with a bright future.
It's hardly a news flash that a high school
diploma is no longer worth much in the job market. For years, the trend
that a good future requires a
college education has been gathering steam
— but that is no excuse for blatant classism.
High school graduation is a major event
in everyone's life. For thirteen years, kids work hard at school to get
a little sheet of paper that says
"diploma" on it. At the end of those thirteen
years, all those students go their separate ways, each to start their own
life in the world. Graduation
is more than a celebration of achievements
it is a milestone in life. It separates the men from the boys, the women
from the girls, and
childhood from responsibility.
Regardless of what the future holds for
a high school graduate, every one who has met the requirements for a diploma
should be allowed to
celebrate both the achievement and the
turning point of their life that graduation represents.
Turning high school graduation into an
introduction to an America divided by class is a monumentally stupid decision.
As if America is not
already divided enough by race, wealth,
political orientation, and education, now, at least in Los Angeles, we
must be separated by intentions.
A person who does not attend college or
join the military after graduation has the same moral worth as those who
do, and should not be
treated like lesser human beings for not
going with the flow and jumping on the bandwagon.
In theory, the idea has merits, but they
are all dismissed by reality.
First, supporters argue that making graduation
more elite will encourage students to do better in school and make a stronger
push to attend
This is wrong for two reasons: initially,
graduation is not a big enough party or close enough to many high school
students to provide that kind
of motivation, and lastly because threats
and negative reinforcements rarely achieve positive results.
Supporters next argue that only college
and the military will provide a bright future for today's youth, and so
graduation ceremonies should be
limited to honor only those few.
First, college and/or the military in no
way automatically guarantee keys to the kingdom. Unfortunate as it is,
many people who attended college
and or the military lead the same so-called
"unsuccessful" lives that many high school graduates and dropouts lead.
College and the military
are not a guarantee for success; they
simply increase the chances.
Second, college and the military are poor
substitutes for many of the intangible and unteachable skills that determine
"success". Simply put,
high school graduates can be every bit
as successful in the job market owning their own business as college graduates.
A few late nights with
the right reading list can go a long way
towards teaching people some of the key concepts they learn in college
without the same price tag.
Third, many people that graduate high school
do not plan to go to college simply because their chosen profession does
not require it.
Plumbers, morticians, carpenters, electricians
and other respectable jobs can be learned at trade school or through on-the-job
those people, going to college can be
a fiscally unwise decision, since a college diploma will not make them
more money or teach them about
Fourth, as many students at UH (including
myself) know, taking time off after graduation before going to college
or the military can be vastly
beneficial to college success. Many students
who delay entrance into college become wiser, more experienced freshmen
that are less likely to
bomb their first year away from home.
Finally, supporters argue that segregating
graduation and therefore forcing higher standards will result in harder
working graduates that are
more able to function in the higher demands
and standards of the world they are entering.
America has not overcome the education
gap between races enough to keep the graduation ceremonies from being both
intent and race
Second, graduation ceremonies celebrate
graduation. All students that graduate should be allowed to go to graduation
ceremony. There is
simply no justification for taking their
achievement away from them, and doing so will only put more obstacles in
their path to success.
High school graduation is not about rewarding
the college experience; that is what college graduation is for.