Providing all students
with a rigorous
of study is a moral
graduates need the academic skills
that will help them achieve success in
a variety of postsecondary pursuits—
whether two-year colleges, apprenticeships, or other training programs—as
well as in a career.
One School District’s Journey
During my tenure in the mid-1990s
as superintendent of schools for the
San Jose Unified School District in
California, we raised our graduation
requirements to coincide with the
minimum entrance requirements for the
© SUSIE FITZHUGH
state of California’s public universities.
We did this with some trepidation
because there were no urban districts
like ours to look to for guidance.
Our rationale was simple. First, we
believed that all graduates should have
the option to go on to college if they
chose. A two-tiered education system
that determined early on whether
students were “college material”—or
not—was simply wrong. It was time
to stop limiting postsecondary options
for most students, particularly low-
income students and students of color,
the majority of the students we served.
For us, providing all students with a
rigorous academic course of study was
a moral imperative, necessary to elevate
the value of a high school diploma for
students grossly underserved by our
schools. For them, the diploma had
been little more than an empty promise.
We wanted it to be much more.