In a recent Viewpoints column, Murray B. Light, a former editor of The News, called for more flexibility in the Regents standards. He said, "The new standards fail to face the realities of student differences in background, mental acuity, and home environment and career choices."
As a state and nation, we are rejecting the idea that differences in students' backgrounds dictate the quality of the education they receive. All students must get the same quality curriculum (and be tested by the same measures) so they have the same opportunity for jobs and higher education no matter what their upbringing.
Why assume that some careers require less grounding in reading, writing, math, science and history than others? At Ford, we value people who are competent in all those areas. Only then do we know that they will be able to continue to learn on the job, whatever their entry point into the company might be. There are no careers - jobs with opportunities for advancement - that will not require some kind of further learning. The Regents' requirements represent a higher level of skill and knowledge for a high school diploma - something the business community has long supported.
Clearly, some students will struggle and some will fail. Our schools must figure out ways to help them, not ways to get around helping them by giving them a phony diploma. Giving students a diploma without giving them the education they need to succeed in the world beyond high school is not helping them. It's setting them up for more failure.
ANDREW D. HERBERT
Plant Manager, Ford's Buffalo Stamping Plant
Member, The Business Council of New York
State's Education Task Force