Thursday, March 15, 2007

Its the Budget Stupid!

Its the budget-Stupid! Part 2

It’s the budget: Stupid!
The opening sentence of the just published report on California education says, “California’s students are far behind those in other states on many measures of achievement. On the 2005 National Assessment of Education Progress, for example, California ranked 7th lowest in eighth grade math in comparison to the 49 other states and the District of Columbia. The story is at least as bad in other subjects. California performed 3rd lowest in reading, ahead of only Hawaii and the District of Columbia, and 2nd lowest in science, ahead of only Mississippi.”

Why is that?
The legislature and governors have meddled and muddled in education, but they have not done their job. Their job is to decide upon a reasonable, fair tax system and to raise the money needed for schools. They have failed at this task for over 20 years while California’s public schools have been forced into a steep decline in quality.
Rather than facing the inadequate funding issue , they have mandated school reforms stressing standardized testing as the driving force behind schooling at the k-12 level, particularly in low income districts. The testing mania has not improved schools, improved school funding, nor improved teaching. The current low level testing tells us what we already know, students in low income schools do poorly. (Rothstein, 2004)
There is always some new advocate who has a solution to failing schools; phonics, exit exams, etc. rather than to face the fundamental political issue of grossly inadequate funding. The Governor, with a two month advance view of the study, is already trying shift the discussion
In fairness, the failure is not the total legislature. The Democratic majority has usually been willing to spend more on schools, but they can not pass a budget without the votes of the Republican minority. Thus, a small group of Republican legislators have prevented adequate school funding. And the Governor’s budget continues that pattern.
The politicians – not the teachers- deserve an F for failure.
Duane Campbell

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