Read and WEEP!

Posted: March 8, 2007 in Uncategorized

Before you get main piece of this post, keep the following excerpt in mind:

From the Building A Better California website –

K-12 Schools

Governor Schwarzenegger has kept his commitment to education by ensuring that every student has access to a quality school principal and quality teachers, investing in opportunities for students, and restoring music, art, and physical education to support a well-rounded education. The Budget includes $66.3 billion ($40.5 billion General Fund and $25.8 billion other funds) for K-12 education programs. This reflects and increase of $2.8 billion ($495.4 million General Fund and $2.3 billion other funds) or 4.4 percent over the revised 2006-07 budget. The total per-pupil expenditures from all sources are projected to be $11,240 in 2006-07 and $11,584 in 2007-08 – both all-time records for the state.  (There is a whole lot more…)

Now read this latest study on the state of California schools:

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Report Card of California’s Education System

Shows Dismal Results

SACRAMENTO -The Pacific Research Institute (PRI), a free market think tank based in California, today announced the results of its 2007 California Education Report Card: Index of Leading Education Indicators. It is the fourth edition of a report that began in 1997.

Lance T. Izumi, PRI’s director of Education Studies, and co-authors Rachel Chaney and Xiaochin C. Yan, evaluate and grade 17 aspects of California’s education system, including its accountability system, standards tests, graduation rates, courses, and finance system. In a total of 17 categories, there were six “F”s, five “D”s, four “C”s, one “B”, and one “A”.

“This is not a report card that any student would want to bring home to his or her parents, and it’s not a report card that I am proud to deliver to the California taxpayer,” said Mr. Izumi.

The results include:

School Accountability System = F

The state’s Academic Performance Index (API) will take decades for many low-performing schools to raise their performance to proficient levels, and most low-performing schools are not subject to any accountability whatsoever.

California Standards Test = F

Only about four in 10 students in grades two through 11 scored at or above the proficient level in English language arts and math in 2006.

Finance System = F

Inflation-adjusted funding per pupil has gone up dramatically over the last decade, but too many of these tax dollars are being wasted on state programs that have yet to show success. Further, the state continues to create new education programs, most of which do not have any accountability mechanisms to prove their worth.

Dropout and Graduation Rates = D-

About three in 10 California high school students who enter the ninth grade fail to graduate four years later, and more than four in 10 African-American and Hispanic students fail to graduate.

Course Difficulty = D

Fewer students in California are taking difficult math and science courses compared to the national average and to states like Texas, and a large majority of students are not taking university preparatory courses.

English Language Learners = D+

California has no methodologically sound way of comparing year-to-year student progress on California English Language Development Test (CELDT), the state’s main instrument for determining the English fluency of English Language Learners. Also, because of self-interested funding concerns, many school districts hesitate to reclassify EL students as being fluent in English even if they have scored at the proficient level on CELDT. Research on state’s high school exit exam shows that significant numbers of EL students are not reclassified for 10 years.

Standards = A

California has one of the best sets of academic content standards in the nation. Unfortunately for the state and its students, the standards have been inconsistently implemented in the classroom.

“Californians need to spend less time debating how much should be spent on public education and should spend more time focusing the discussion on what works in raising student achievement,” said Mr. Izumi. “Finding effective answers to this question will lead to improvements in the quality of education services, the performance of students, and ultimately the future of the Golden State.”

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Democrats and Republicans have failed this state big time (which is why neither party got my vote this past election cycle—hmmm, there may have been one Republican now I think about it). Folks who whine and complain about schools not getting enough funding should look first to teachers unions and local school administrations.

This is a info sheet I created (pdf file) a while ago regarding the Congressional Black Caucus’ stone dedication to our failing educational system (while some of the members pictured on this sheet need to be removed due to recent elections, their stance as a group has remained the same).

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Comments
  1. paceni says:

    At least California parents still have a choice to opt out of the State system. The Education Minister in Northern Ireland has removed choice from thousands of parents and pupils for an academic education. See http://paceni.wordpress.com

  2. The Social Critic says:

    This isn’t good news, but one thing that I think a lot of folks who do not reside in “border states” miss is that people who are not second or even third generation English speakers sometimes have a more difficult time testing out proficient. And as politically incorrect as it sounds, when a child goes home to a non-English speaking parent and the parent asks them if they have any homework, how are they going to know whether their child is giving them an accurate portrayal of what the school or teacher expects? How are they going to help their child with their homework, for instance, when they themselves can’t read the assignment, or when they themselves may have only the equivalent of a 5th grade education in their native language/country?

    The problem with comparing border states to other places where English-as-a-first-language speakers are the norm is that it’s apples to oranges. Those CA stats on test proficiency, if you were to graph them out alongside the number of non-English speaking immigrant populations moving into the state over the past 30-40 years, would probably illustrate my point better.

    I would not be surprised if the decline in testing proficiency parallels an increase in English speaking parents/households. According to one source I read, in the 1980s alone the equivalent of the entire City of Boston moved into the City of Los Angeles in the form of illegal immigration — not counting the legal kind — and many of them became U.S. citizens when President Reagan authorized amnesty for millions of them.

    Make no mistake: There isn’t anything intellectually or morally deficient about such immigrants. We are, after all, a nation comprised of immigrant descendants. I am only pointing out that it is somewhat unrealistic to expect first- and even second-generation children to go up against national averages. The student demographics of California and other border states are much different than the rest of the United States and the testing outcomes only reflect that reality. If you were to go back in history to certain parts of the East Coast where Irish, Italian and other fresh new immigrants settled, you would see that most of them were generally less educated and less integrated too. It’s part of the process of being “new” but it doesn’t last forever — unless those communities never assimilate.

    That’s where it gets controversial.

    The difference with some of the subcultures we see today in the border states is that the home country/home language isn’t thousands of miles across an ocean — it’s literally next-door. Many of these people grow up knowing that the border states were once part of their territory. Therefore, they are not relocating to the US but another extension of “home” (where great, great grandfather lived on a 5,000 acre ranchero).

    It’s not surprising, then, that we see less emphasis on acculturating to the US and to the English language (and our schools). Add to this the fact that these communities of new Spanish-speaking immigrants are constantly replenished by virtue of their geographic proximity to “home base” and there is no moving from the newcomer phase to the Americanized identity. This keeps Latin American language and culture alive for more generations than it did for immigrants who came from more distant lands. This is a plus or a minus depending on what side of the fence you are on. If you are a teacher or a state testing agency, it’s a constant drag on proficiency scores. That’s why a lot of teachers would argue that it’s not really fair to compare the test results of kids in Iowa or Wisconsin whose Scandanavian ancestors came over here 100 or more years ago to kids whose parents are still in the process of “getting here” over a 200 years after people began to seek out new lives in this nation.

    At the end of the day getting the children of non-English speakers up to speed academically still matters because those children, no matter where their parents came from, deserve a fair chance to live the American Dream. However, I’m not sure that endeavor is realistic when there is such a sense that the border states are merely an extension of home (and not the US). In other words, the kids’ parents have to believe that American values for education and language matter. If they do not model for their children the reality that there is anything worth assimilating into beyond their own subculture and language, their children become disenfranchised, flounder academically, and in some cases drop out, join gangs and end up in prison. I don’t blame the kids — I blame their parents for not expecting enough of them. Teachers can’t fix what parents won’t back.

  3. The Social Critic says:

    “I would not be surprised if the decline in testing proficiency parallels an increase in English speaking parents/households. ”

    Make that NON_English speaking households — percentage goes up, test scores go down.

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