Please let me know if reproducing the entire text is prohibited and I'll edit it out in favor of a link. Hopefully attribution is acceptable From today's LA Times: Hypocrisy in the Diploma-cy By: Dan Kimber A former student came by for a visit last week with his "high school diploma" in hand. Being that he was only a junior last year, I was a little surprised at this sudden fast-forward in his academic life. I've had other students over the years who have wanted to short-circuit their time in high school by taking extra courses and/or high school equivalency exams. But this was different. This young man had a "diploma" from an "accredited institution." He achieved this after having passed a qualifying test which, I have learned, bears absolutely no resemblance to high school exit exams given by our public schools. The certification given this young man came from a place calling itself Century Academy. It claims to be fully accredited by the National Assn. for the Legal Support of Alternative Schools. Other accrediting organizations, like the American Assn. of Drugless Practitioners, or the National Private Schools Assn. — both institutions that "welcome students as they are" — are popping up all across the country to meet a growing demand for a cheap alternative to a high school diploma. One "professional association," the National Independent Study Accreditation Council, openly states that they "cannot guarantee the actual education of any individual student." The push for greater choice in our children's education, which has lately swelled the ranks of charter schools, private schools, and home schools, has also spawned some rather ugly offspring. With the apparent indifference of our state's education establishment, and the outright cooperation of our junior colleges, these fly-by-night businesses have capitalized on an educational establishment that seems more concerned with processing students than teaching them. It is part of a growing trend in my profession that seems to award quantity over quality and image over substance. The counselors at our school have made inquiries. Letters to the State Department of Education have gone unanswered. A letter to the president of Glendale Community College got a "thanks for your interest" with no explanation or justification for cooperating as they do with these organizations by honoring their "diplomas." The one positive response has come from Congressman Adam Schiff, who was "appalled at the situation and was going to look into it." I am at a complete loss to understand how our state, on the one hand, desires to sledgehammer standards into the daily lessons of our public schools, but then, on the other, is indifferent to a gaping hole in those standards where they really should have meaning — like at graduation. A high school diploma should mean something, but it is presently being devalued in our state at the bargain price of $400, which will earn a junior (or conceivably a sophomore) a high school diploma and early entry into a junior college. It will also allow that "graduate" to check the little box on a job application that denotes a high school graduate. Our school counselors have taken note of some of these "graduates," who display their diplomas and proudly bear witness to never having taken any test or gone through any curriculum to earn it. Glendale Community College will presently admit anyone 18 or older, high school diploma or not. It will also admit students younger than 18 if they have a high school diploma. Hence, a 16-year-old who wishes to bypass his/her junior and senior years at high school, may apply to an organization like those listed above, and be given first year standing at a community college. Can anyone tell me that that scenario is in line with the fine standards and exalted objectives that our district, our state, or our federal government have been promoting? Speaking of our federal government, and if I may draw a clumsy, but irresistible parallel to our present chief executive, the precedent has been set at the highest levels of our government that standards really don't mean anything. When a "C" student with average SAT scores can gain entry into one of the top colleges in the country — such as Yale — not by virtue of the high standards set by the college, but by separate rules and private understandings that award privilege over merit, the message is clear. Standards are things to be overcome, not complied with, and it is exactly the wrong message to send to our young people whose ethics, we hope, will one day catch up with their ambition. For the highest elected official in the land to criticize affirmative-action programs on the basis that they do not award true merit is an audacity, and I would add, a hypocrisy that, at the very least, deserves more attention than it has received. It says that any student who is questioned for wanting to short-cut or cheapen his/her education can truthfully assert, "The president did it, didn't he?"