Friday, March 10, 2006

Students/Parents Challenge Discriminatory California High School Exit Exam

A huge legal battle will be unfolding in the next months as the CA state board of education has failed this past week to provide alternatives to the CA High School Exit Exam [CAHSEE] and tens of thousands of seniors, mostly low income and Black, Latino, ELL's and special education students face being denied diplomas at the end of this year.

Sacramento State University Professor Ken Futernick got it right in his opinion piece in the Oakland Tribune -

There is just one way out of this dilemma. Lawmakers must agree not to deny a diploma to students unless the state can verify that most of their teachers were adequately prepared and that their school environments have met accepted standards. Yes, some graduates will be less prepared than we'd like, but until the state holds up its end of the education bargain, it is we who must shoulder the cost of this inequity, not our students.
The vast majority of the hundreds of San Francisco public school seniors who face denial of their diplomas are low income, English learners, Special Education, African American or Latino students. The lawsuit brought by Richmond High School senior Liliana Valenzuela and hundreds of other students and their parents and supported by attorneys at Morrison & Foerster [Valenzuela v. O'Connell] will force the court to consider questions about inadequate funding, unequal opportunities to learn, and inequity for the vast majority of students in our urban school districts.

For a great source of information on the now landmark Williams v. California educational equity case and ongoing updates on the legal and political challenges to the distriminatory CAHSEE see
Just Schools California
Here's a sampling:

Who’s really flunking California’s high school exit exams?
Opinion by Ken FUTERNICK/Oakland Tribune
Ken Futernick, Ph.D., is professor of education at Sacramento State University.
COME THIS spring, tens of thousands of high school seniors in California will, for the first time, be denied diplomas for not passing the state-mandated California High School Exit Examination. Exam proponents argue that unless students are held to minimum academic standards, diplomas will have little value to employers, colleges, and others who use them as a screening device.

Exit exam option fails
State board rejects alternatives for ‘highly proficient.’By Laurel Rosenhall/Sacramento Bee
The State Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to reject alternatives for "highly proficient" students who fail the California High School Exam, echoing state Superintendent Jack O’Connell’s staunch support of the test. "If a student were highly proficient in both math and English, it would be a travesty if they could not pass this test because this test is very simple," said board member Donald Fisher, chairman of the Gap clothing company.

State school board gets behind exit test
Members reject alternatives; students’ fate in judge’s handsBy Jill Tucker/Oakland Tribune
Only a judge can stop the exit exam now. The state Board of Education unanimously rejected any alternatives to the California High School Exit Exam on Wednesday, as recommended by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. A pending lawsuit is the last-ditch diploma hope for an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 seniors in the class of 2006 who have yet to pass the test.

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