By Megan G. Razzetti
A California state law that limits the number of times college students may attempt a course is detrimental to the educational well-being of its students.
The law was passed in 2012 under the Title 5 California Code of Regulations which is supposed to help with the educational construction of schools including higher learning facilities.
In accordance with this law, community college students are only allowed to attempt a class a maximum of three times.
They state the factors for which courses cannot be repeated for the fourth time, making a small exception for students with disabilities provided, they have evidence.
Unfortunately for many students, regardless of the reasons they do not succeed in a class, the only ones the law is interested in those regarding factors beyond a student’s control.
The Death of a loved one and serious illness or injury constitute a valid excuse with sufficient documentation.
Struggling in a course, despite all efforts to succeed, does not.
Any student who is unable to pass the class within the three attempts is given the option to file a Fourth Attempt Petition.
In this petition, students must attempt to justify their failures in the eyes of the law by explaining their lack of success .
Failure to comprehend a course is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of many students’ journeys to success.
Like many, math is a complete academic struggle for me.
My transfer date is now being extended because I had attempted an algebra course more than three times.
It has been challenging for me to even grasp concepts of math or even be able to feel confident enough to go to teachers after class to ask for extra help.
My struggles even made me start to think that I may have dyscalculia, which is a brain disorder that causes severe difficulty in arithmetical calculating.
If a student is denied a fourth attempt, the law states he or she must go elsewhere to complete the course. The student must go, not just to another college, but to another district altogether.
The law was passed in an attempt to retaliate against students whose transcripts indicate them to be lazy and unmotivated.
It was passed with the intention of waking up the students who are thought to be sleeping in class and coasting through life.
It aims to discourage the students who are believed to be there for the sole purpose of taking up space that could otherwise be occupied by more deserving individuals.
The law fails to recognize that any students willing to take the same class more than three times are not just there to fill up space or deprive other students a chance at success. They are there because they want a chance at that same success, even if it does not come as easily to them as it does to others.
Eddie Mike Garcia, a student at East Los Angeles College, is all too familiar with this dilemma Garcia is currently on his third attempt at algebra.
Despite all efforts to succeed, Garcia understands that his third attempt likely won’t be his last.
“The sad part is that math is holding me back from attaining my AA degree next year. It’s not that I’m not trying hard enough. I just can’t comprehend algebra,” Garcia said.
Though he is not yet able to comprehend algebra, Garcia will not be deterred.
He is determined to one day conquer it.
He just wishes he could do that here at ELAC, or at the very least, on a Los Angeles Community College District campus.
Garcia said, “I don’t think it’s fair for some students to have to go outside the LACCD district to take a class a fourth time.”
These students who willingly and continuously subject themselves to the degradation and humiliation of failing should not be punished, but rather, admired.
They are determined not to give up on themselves, even when the state of California already has.
–Also contributing to this story Shorook Badawi