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Patrick Mallon - Columnist

Patrick Mallon is a freelance journalist and author of California Dictatorship: How Liberal Extremism Destroyed Gray Davis [read an excerpt]. His website is at and he can be contacted at [go to Mallon index]

California Dictatorship:
How Liberal Extremism Destroyed Gray Davis

by Patrick Mallon

The inside story of the people´s revolt against an unresponsive and unpopular chief executive.
[Order it at Amazon.] Read an excerpt

Arnold: The "Elephant" is Immigration
The root of California's education problem...
[Patrick Mallon]

As a persistent surveyor of California education policies and attendant inclination of the state's legislature and teacher's union to emphasize self-esteem, revisionist indoctrination and sexual orientation into the classroom at the expense of basic academics, it was with low expectations that I read an eruption of stories on our "failing schools" delivered by the politically routine press on January 4.

The writers were reacting to a just-issued Rand report titled: California's K-12 Schools: How Are They Doing?

One story stated the report's intent: "The nonpartisan Rand Corporation examined every measurable aspect of California schools, from student achievement to teacher qualifications and facilities. The report was commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which supports educational, environmental and social issues."

A sampling of the headlines:

  • "Study offers Grim Look at Schools" (LA Times)
  • "Bleak Report on State's Schools" (Orange County Register)
  • "California Schools 3rd-worst in nation" (Long Beach Press Telegram)
  • "California's Flunking" (Contra Costa Times)
  • "Study shows schools in crisis" (Ventura County Star)

The substantiation spread throughout these columns stood predictable as hard cheese: insufficient funding, class-sizes, teacher salaries and qualifications, and the adverse impact of 1978's Proposition 13.

While offering legitimate details about the crumbling education system, the tendered reasons were indistinguishable from the incomplete explanations offered in the 1990s, and as moldy as those offered in the 1980s.

A demographically systemic challenge far more culturally explosive than existed 20 years ago certainly deserves a more inventive, honest, and unafraid examination than that presently offered by the high-ranking education professionals whose expertise has led a generation of students down the brave path of the unprepared.

The Contra Costa Times hinted at the core problem stating, "When family conditions like poverty and English language deficiencies were factored into the national results, California scored dead last in reading, 46th in math."

The LA Times danced with: "A growing portion of these students come from low-income families or are immigrants who are still learning English." One might expect a paper like the Times, with its impressive research capabilities, to quantify for their readership what number this "growing portion" is.No dice.

The libertarian Orange County Register, interminably enlightening readers on Latino education issues, refuses to make the critical association of a student's lack of legal status on underperformance on tests and grade-level learning.

Meanwhile, businesses continue to employ millions of cut-rate illegal immigrants on a cash-only basis and/or with forged documentation; employees who will never file a state or federal tax return. Entire job descriptions are now dominated by Latino immigrants: child care, landscaping, pool and home construction, dry walling, roofing, food service, and many other categories. And these people do a darn good job too. But there are consequences to the citizen-taxpayer, consequences that no politician wants to touch.

According to the California Department of Education, 46 percent of the state's 6.4 million K-12 students are Latino or Hispanic (a classification defined as: A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin - regardless of race).

Who is the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation?

Follow the money. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation funded the Rand report that everyone is reacting to. Who are they and what is their agenda?

According to the foundation's charter at

"The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation makes grants to address the most serious social and environmental problems facing society, where risk capital, responsibly invested, may make a difference over time. The Foundation places a high value on sustaining and improving institutions that make positive contributions to society."

The foundation sponsors an important television documentary soon to receive wide national visibility: "First to Worst" is Hewlett grantee John Merrow’s in-depth look at the dire state of California’s public schools, scheduled to air on PBS nationwide beginning in February.

"First to Worst" illustrates how the passage of Proposition 13 combined with other factors to seriously weaken California’s public schools.

Prop 13 is the 1978 tax reform amendment that capped property taxes and transferred school funding from local control to state control. Instead of a reliably stable funding source, property taxes, schools are now funded by state revenues, which rise and fall based on the economy, but more importantly, by taxable income.

According to the California Employment Development Department (EDD):

"The Internal Revenue Service recently estimated that the federal government is losing $195 billion per year in revenue due to underground activity. In addition, it is estimated the size of the underground economy is anywhere from 3 to 40 percent of the aboveground economy. Based on this estimate, the California underground economy is estimated to be $60 to $140 billion."

It is conservatively estimated that 30 percent of the state's workers get paid in cash and many don't file tax returns. What percentage of California's estimated three to five million undocumented workers fit into this category is unknown, but there are number crunchers in government qualified to make an intelligent guess.

Nor do we know the actual number of struggling immigrant children who attend California K-12, because no one in government wants you, or I, to know.

If the governor, an honorable man to be sure, wants credibility, he would deliver this information with courage. The state's education budget constitutes the biggest piece of California's fiscal pie. How can we reconcile it without an audit of every fiscal asset and liability?

Why a huge, unknown number of the state's school kids are indifferent to traditional subjects like citizenship, civics, history, geography and American government should be relatively obvious. It's nearly impossible to succeed in subjects like these when fearful kids have no legal status other than that the law requires the state to educate them.

Many of these kids are bitter, cannot legally share in the American dream, and see no hope in high SAT scores or good grades. For what? And sadly, many Latinas end up having children to qualify for benefits as soon as their baby is born – an American citizen with a ticket, a mom without.

According to the governor in his state of the state speech:

"In every meeting I attend in Sacramento, there's an elephant in the room. In public, we often act like it's not there. But, in private, you come up to me... Republicans and Democrats alike... and you tell me the same thing, 'Arnold, if only we could change the budget system. But the politics are just too dangerous."

The elephant's in your court governor. The issue isn't about inept teachers. Though the state has their share, the majority of teachers are dedicated professionals committed to a quality education for kids, no matter what the obstacles or frustrations.

The facts are these: 6.4 million kids now collectively rank 48th out of the 50 states in scholastic achievement. 50 percent of Latino students drop out before graduating from high school. Almost entire school populations in Los Angeles, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and the Central Valley are comprised of students whose parents are, and many themselves are, migrant workers who are here on a transitional, under-the-table employment basis. This unstable condition makes a productive classroom experience for affected students a farce by all definitions.

After the governor's speech, Sarah Shaw, a high school English teacher in Costa Mesa responded to the implication that education problems are the fault of teachers alone. "It felt like a slap in the face. Schwarzenegger made it sound like teachers were responsible for all the state's shortcomings in education. It's an insult."

The greater insult would be for the governor to ignore the state's "elephant in the room" and the extraordinary impact illegal immigration has on the composition of the classroom, the overall performance of the students, and the continuously declining quality of education in a state that once boasted award winning schools.

And no, the Rand Corporation did not "examine every measurable aspect of California schools," nor did the elite media.

Will Arnold? CRO


Patrick Mallon is a political journalist and author of California Dictatorship: How Liberal Extremism Destroyed Gray Davis. [read an excerpt]. Patrick is a regular guest on talk radio programs throughout the state and nationally. He can be contacted at

copyright 2005 Patrick Mallon



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