Too little too late: LAUSD’s policy is sabotaging the next generation

The largest school district in California is holding their students back and getting away with it.
PLAYING CATCH UP LAUSDs late work policy is incentivizing students to procrastinate, leaving them with a disastrous buildup of late assignments.
PLAYING CATCH UP LAUSD’s late work policy is incentivizing students to procrastinate, leaving them with a disastrous buildup of late assignments.

Responsibility is the foundation upon which a great community, a great nation and a great people are built. It is the ability to not only acknowledge that our world can’t function perfectly or even decently without effort, but also to apply the necessary effort accordingly. It is a skill that has always been valued in society, evident even today from how quick we are to publicly slander, shame and depose politicians we think lack it.

And so the burning question remains: why is it that LAUSD students in 2023 are so impressively irresponsible?

If we’re a country interested in having a competent workforce in generations to come, this issue needs to be addressed immediately.

The reason mentally-sound Americans love responsible people is simple: when there’s stuff that has to get done (and stuff always has to get done), these guys are the ones for the job. Put bluntly, whether you’re the president deciding national law or a cashier in a local supermarket trying to speed things along, the value of your existence depends almost entirely on how responsible you are.

Our future workforce, leaders and providers are being encouraged in LAUSD schools to do less more often. During the pandemic, a controversial policy was implemented districtwide. This policy made it practically impossible for students to fail a class. Teachers were essentially stripped of their ability to report accurate marks for their students. Report cards failed to carry out their purpose, which is to accurately identify a student’s academic strengths and struggles.

Originally, district officials claimed the policies would help students disproportionately impacted by online learning, such as students from low-income and minority households. According to a study by The Times, these individuals showed participation rates 10 to 20 percent lower than their white and Asian peers.

However, we see those same policies in place today in the post-pandemic era, with district officials now jumping to a more absurd line of reasoning. They argue that LAUSD is in a transitional period that somehow necessitates keeping equity-based grading practices that in fact only widen the gap between grades and actual academic performance.

For three years now, students have been denied proper grading based on their attendance, adherence to deadlines, engagement and behavior. This is a tad concerning, but maybe the proposed alternative was better.

It was decided that the appropriate measures of academic proficiency would instead consist of students’ mastery of standards and the level of learning students showed, with quantity of work completed excluded as a factor.

Basically, the district proposed that students be graded on the quality of whatever work they submit, without penalizing work that they didn’t.

And so, it becomes increasingly apparent that we’re screwed.

Punctuality, work ethic and time management are all core principles of a good student and a future asset to society. Having and developing these qualities actively throughout high school sets you up for being responsible and accountable. In discontinuing the nurture of such valuable qualities in students today, we fail them and resign our country to a sad fate in which procrastination and laziness run rampant, and individuals live in a delusion-driven coma believing that success is handed to all on a silver platter.

And for what? How can we truly measure people’s proficiency levels when we have completely removed the real-world factor of things needing to get done by a deadline? Let us not entertain the notion that there will ever live a world in which the men and women that keep the nation running should be allowed to be so irresponsible. It’s ridiculous, as is any institution or society that promotes this misleading, toxic message.

A proper and well-functioning society cannot and will not ever be able to coexist with unchecked complacency and low standards. Continuing down this path is what will transfigure American civilization into a fool’s paradise where merit means nothing, where equality, and not fairness, is preached.

There are no consolation prizes in the real world. Unconditional obligations are few and far between. If you are unable to bring value to society, then respectfully, you don’t deserve anything in return. The world revolves around supply and demand, and if your supply is meager and flimsy, the world doesn’t want it.

If schools truly exist to educate and prepare students for life in the real world, then the simple truth is that lying to students for the sake of their feelings provides a false sense of safety and a setup for death by a thousand cuts.

LAUSD needs to lead by example. While colleges might look favorably upon an inflated GPA, the world will not settle for sub-satisfactory performance.

This game of facades and false grades has already gone on for far too long. The longer it continues, the more students will permanently get caught up in this twisted sentiment of settling for being less. And once that happens, the district will have done irreparable damage.

The abridged version of this article appeared in the Fall 2023 print edition. This is an uncut version.

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About the Contributor
Joel Nam
Joel Nam, Opinion Editor
From trekking through national parks in Washington to scouring pictures on the internet at home, pursuing all things aesthetic is my favorite way to realize my values and dreams. As a new voice at Van Nuys High School’s Journalism team, my aspiration is to appreciate the untold stories that surround us in our daily lives and share them with everyone else. In my spare time, I can be found searching for (through elaborate testing) the ideal sleeping position.
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  • A

    AppleNov 25, 2023 at 10:08 pm

    This current superintendent does not like any negativity reflected on him. All you have to do is research his so-called achievements while serving in Florida. He demanded that crime, low scores, and child abuse not be reported, in order to have a positive reflection on him and his administration. Abuse went unreported, and if teachers and/or principals made such reports, they were harassed to the point that they were forced to resign or transferred to school sites that made it an extreme hardship for such employees. This man is a joke!!!

  • S

    SueNov 23, 2023 at 10:36 am

    Briefly, there are two reasons why LAUSD has chosen to maintain their policies of “mastery grading” and “no one gets to fail”.

    1. To artificially inflate their graduation numbers to the L.A. Times and other publications.
    2. To placate entitled parents and students who continually complain about the “unfairness” of teacher-enforced deadlines, penalties and zeroes given for no work completed.

    Who loses in this scenario? You already said it: students who are woefully unprepared to go out into the world without knowing consequences for late or incomplete work, arriving late to a job, etc. Teachers are also the scapegoats, as they always are, because they are the frontline workers who have no say in these policies. Indeed, they risk admonishment in the form of an ineffective performance review or being “written up” if they attempt to circumvent these policies.

    My advice to students? If your school has a co-op program, sign up for it. If there isn’t one, get a part time or summer job. No matter what it is, it will teach you the responsibility you will need in your future endeavors, whatever they may be. Don’t rely on LAUSD to make you “Ready for the World”. That is clearly not what is happening.