Wednesday May 29, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 142


 
 









 

California breaking golden rules

Richard W. Whitrock

Sometime soon in California, high school students in several Northern Los Angeles schools will not be able to attend graduation unless
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
college. 

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 training. For
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
their profession.

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
segregated.

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.

Whitrock, a sophomore architecture 
major, can be reached at rick_whitrock@hotmail.com


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