Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Who Needs High School?

No one, if you believe the front page of today's NY Times. Equivalencies? Nope. Ya don't need them either.

Who's moving on without the fancy paper sheepskin?

They are students like April Pointer, 23, of New City, N.Y., a part-time telemarketer who majors in psychology at Rockland Community College, whose main campus is in Suffern, N.Y. Ms. Pointer failed science her senior year of high school and did not finish summer school.

But to her father's amazement, last year she was accepted at Rockland, part of the State University of New York.

"He asked, 'Don't you have to have a high school diploma to go to college?' " she said. "I was like, 'No, not anymore.' "

There are nearly 400,000 students like Ms. Pointer nationwide, accounting for 2 percent of all college students, 3 percent at community colleges and 4 percent at commercial, or profit-making, colleges, according to a survey by the United States Education Department in 2003-4.

Governor Pataki wanted to withdraw tuition grants for students who hadn't finished high school but the legislature didn't buy that idea.

So the next time kids asks what they need your class for, you may be at a loss. Or will you?

Today's Daily News tells the sad story of Alba Somoza, granddaughter of charming ex-Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, whose twin sister demanded on national television that President Clinton help her attain placement in regular classes. Apparently, that request was granted, although with questionable results:

Although Alba read at a fourth-grade level, she graduated from the School of the Future with Regents honors, because, her petition claims, the Education Department "fabricated transcripts to show grades at a high level," including an 85 in English and a 90 in math.

In 2003, when it became clear that Alba was unprepared for the classes in which she had enrolled at Queens College, the department agreed to cover three years of extra services at a cost of $1.2million to get her up to speed, the documents say.

So it can be costly when the kids don't learn. Lying about it after the fact doesn't help much either.

Alba and her twin, Anastasia, were born with quadriplegia and cerebral palsy. Their plight inspired Clinton to strengthen the equal education rights of disabled children.

Anastasia just completed her junior year as a political science major at Georgetown University in Washington.

Alba cannot speak. She communicates by tapping her chin on a computerized device. She needs two more years of school to improve her literacy enough to hold a job, said Mary Somoza, who lives with Alba in Manhattan.

It sounds like she needed help. Too bad New York City was unable to distinguish between the real kind and the pretend kind.
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