national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]
















Missed Opportunities of the Year
Declining student achievement...

[Xiaochin Claire Yan] 12/16/05

In 2005 California increased the education budget by $3 billion and poured $50 billion into schools at the rate of more than $10,000 per pupil. Yet there is little to show for these efforts. Student achievement remains low and the dropout rate is high. Teacher quality varies widely from school to school and the state lacks an accurate way to measure student progress. Throughout this past year, California missed crucial opportunities to enhance accountability and boost achievement.

Not giving more choice to parents and students trapped at low-performing schools. Federal legislation gives parents whose children are in failing schools the option of private tutors and the right to transfer to a better public school. But few parents with children in under-performing schools know the status of their children’s schools or are aware of the right to transfer. Many districts do not inform parents of their choices or deny transfer requests outright. And although some public charter schools have shown tremendous success in improving achievement in urban and minority areas, charter schools still face stiff opposition from the education establishment. Many parents and students trapped in failing campuses still have no choice of getting into a better school.

Guest Contributor
Xiaochin Claire Yan

Xiaochin Claire Yan is a Policy Fellow in Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco.[Yan index]

Failing to recognize that all teachers are not equal. California failed to link a teacher’s pay to performance, rigorous evaluations, and willingness to take on challenging environments. Under the current system the Teacher of the Year is paid the same as the teacher who put in the minimum effort. Seniority alone should not be the determinant of a teacher’s pay.

Failing to reform tenure. In California, most primary and secondary teachers receive permanent status, or tenure, after completing a two-year probation. Once tenured, it is virtually impossible to fire teachers regardless of poor performance. A tenured teacher cannot be dismissed solely for failing to improve student achievement. Worse, if students consistently fail to advance under one teacher, there is no explicit provision that allows districts to commence the dismissal process. Proposition 74 on the November ballot would have been a small step in fixing the problem. The electorate missed the opportunity reform teacher tenure.

Failing to stop exorbitant union contracts from bankrupting our schools. Exorbitant union contracts are currently outstripping state revenue and limiting districts from contracting out for cheaper services in facilities and maintenance. These factors contribute to unnecessarily high costs in education, which means fewer dollars go to students in the classroom.

Failing to implement a value-added model of assessment. California’s current method of assessment provides a partial and often inaccurate picture of how students are really doing and the results are often of little help to teachers. Test-score reports focus on average test scores and growth at the school level, overlooking the needs of the individual student. California failed to implement a measurement model that provides information on how well individual students are progressing toward subject-matter proficiency from year to year.

Failing to improve teacher subject-matter competency. The National Council on Teacher Quality gave California an “F” grade on its system of ensuring the subject-matter competency of veteran teachers. The system allows too many teachers deficient in subject matter to be labeled as competent.

In California, state and local spending on education has grown by more than $11 billion since 1998. The state may increase education spending even more in 2006 but until California gets serious about reform, the results in student achievement will not keep pace.CRO




Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005