“Because they can't pass algebra, thousands of students are denied diplomas. Many try again and again -- but still get Fs.” This was the opening line in January 30th’s LA Times that was to catch the readers attention for Duke Helfand’s, an LA Times staff writer, The Vanishing Class: A Formula for Failure in L.A. Schools. Helfand’s article is blaming the L.A. School Board’s decision of making mandatory that all high school students need to pass algebra before earning there diploma, the reason for such high drop out rates across the school district.
Helfand begins his article with a story about a student named Gabriela who attends Birmingham High School, located in Van Nuys, CA, in the L.A. school district and has failed algebra six times in the past six semesters. The story continues how because algebra is a requirement for graduation, and because Gabriela can’t seem to be able to understand it, she drops out of high school. Further more the story ends with describing that this was the same fate for thousands of her peers.
After the story of introduction the author jumps into what the effects have been from making algebra a required course for graduation. Helfand uses quotes from different member associated with the L.A. school board and throws in a facts and statistics to show the effects. Helfand brings the reader up to date with the decision that lawmakers in Sacramento made in 2004, making algebra a requirement state wide and how the L.A. schools district is “raising the bar again, and that by 2016 all students will be required to have the University of California’s requirements of 3 years of advanced math and 4 years of English in order to receive a diploma.” Not only does he tell what the decision was, but also tells about how “the board approved in a 6-1 vote last June.”
Helfand then changes gears and gets more in touch with students and teachers. He brings up more statistics about failing rates to show that students are...