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Xavier Hermosillo is the President of CrisisPros, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 20years ago and is based in his native San Pedro, CA. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning print reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He is an elected member of the Board of Directors of CGI Holdings, Inc., a publicly-traded company that is headquartered in Chicago. He co-founded a NASDAQ company based in Chicago, serves as a Hearing Examiner for the L.A. Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds Honors degrees in Administration of Justice, Marketing and Management. He can be reached at

April 11, 2005

Remodeling is always a tough and expensive proposition, except when you don’t have to do the work but get to enjoy the benefits of someone else’s hard work and money.

Such is the case this week as HalEisner.Com premieres a new look, a remodeling of the website. Enjoy it. The Internet is hard work for those who build it, maintain it, and remodel it. The rest of us get to sit back and look good because of it.

Moving on to another type of remodeling, it is time for the news media to take a hard look at a story it will be revisiting, but once again, it will probably be over-looking an obvious angle in what appears to be a boring education story.

But it is NOT boring, folks, and PLEASE, ask the hard questions this time around.

We’re about two months away from the graduation season and we’re hearing the Governor and members of the state legislature posturing again about holding our education system “accountable”.

What they’re referring to is the often-discussed, but rarely-understood high school exit exam in which you have to pass, among other things, algebra, or you can’t leave high school. It’s feast or famine, genius or dummy!

Please STOP!! Just for a moment. And realize that not everyone now in high school is going to go to college, at least not what we consider a traditional college. Some students will go to vocational schools, or into the military, or family businesses, or other endeavors where algebra will NEVER come into play. We were not all cut out to be doctors, lawyers, engineers or scientists. Thank God!!

Some of us were cut out to be journalists, craftspeople, artists, and actors, where the only time numbers come into play is when we’re trying to figure out how to pay the bills and why we took this vow of poverty for the sake of creativity.

I speak from personal experience on the issue because I began my news career as a young sports writer for the South Bay Daily Breeze and the San Pedro News-Pilot when I was 14 years old. By the time I got to high school and algebra classes, it was clear my life was going to be in the world of communications and we measured type faces and fonts by the “pica” and didn’t need to know that 2x=n + q or whatever.

I failed algebra in high school and later in college. I sailed through my English, journalism, regular math, history and other classes, but algebra always haunted me. I didn’t finish my college degree until later in life because I couldn’t pass that darned algebra and it was a state requirement.

For the longest time, I had completed enough college courses for two bachelors degrees but I lacked that elusive sign of one lousy accomplishment - the validation that I was educated - a passing grade in algebra.

A college administrator suggested to me one day that perhaps I was one of those thousands of people who were not cut out to understand Algebra, just like some people can never learn Spanish, even though it is everywhere around them.

The administrator suggested I take a 17-hour state test that could determine if I had a learning disability in math, specifically in algebra and geometry. I was both flabbergasted and ashamed. Me? Disabled in ANYTHING that was intellectual? I was angry, shocked, disappointed.

Still, I agreed to be tested, and after 17 hours of testing by a shrink, I learned that in deed, I was genetically as hopeless in algebra and geometry as I was successful in communication, comprehension, cognitive skills, etc. I had a real life-long learning disability in math and no one had caught until now.

It was the whole Left Brain-Right Brain conundrum.

It is a MAJOR issue in schools today and yet, I don’t see reporters doing any analysis of the damage these mandatory exit exams can do to our high school kids. Perhaps because journalists are creative Right Brainers, we lack the wherewithal to ask these tough questions of our educational administrators. The kids deserve better.

Do journalists even know the differences between Left Brain and Right Brain thinking? Left Brainers are logical, sequential, rational, analytical, objective, and they look at parts. Right Brainers are more random, intuitive, holistic, synthesizing, subjective, and they trend to look at the whole picture.

I know the words “objective” and “subjective” may be in the wrong description categories for some journalists, since we’re all supposed to be objective. The reality is that we’re not (for purely political reasons these days), so live with it for now. Let’s stay focused on the kids and what is really going to happen when your kid can’t pass the algebra exit exam and faces being a 4-year senior and turning 22 while still unable to qualify for that 12th grade sheepskin.

We are all to blame for this dilemma because we told our elected officials we wanted better test scores and better-educated kids. We said we didn’t want to pay the teachers more unless it was on merit and unless all of our kids came out of school looking and acting like little Einsteins. But they didn’t and they won’t.

Most of our kids will become plumbers, electricians, grocery clerks, secretaries, beauticians, cosmetologists, truckers, construction workers, entrepreneurs, and yes, even longshoremen, telephone marketers, and journalists.

It’s just plain wrong and dumb-headed to pretend they’re all capable of mastering complex math and formulas in order to make a living, and not allow them to leave high school until they pass the exit exam. We’re cruising down the wrong road on this one.

I hear those who say we won’t have a competitive California if we don’t mandate the test. Well, the only alternative to not taking the test will be to drop out, and then take the GED (General Educational Development) test, which many people think is a “Graduate Equivalency Diploma” or a dummy version of a high school sheepskin.

That would be unfortunate because California would be saddled with many more GED test-takers than necessary and we would be ignoring the need for craftsmen and other noble professions that we have downplayed for far too long.

When my sink drain gets plugged, my hair gets too long, or I need to dictate a letter, I want to turn to someone who is proud and qualified to service my needs. And that person’s ability to pass a darned algebra test is the least of all the qualifications I care about at that moment.

Now it is up to the media to put these types of case scenarios in front of our government officials and ask the hard questions. Why demean these vitally necessary non-algebra jobs and the students who will perform them? THIS is an injustice that needs to be exposed.