Monday, March 12, 2007

Its the budget- Stupid!

It’s the budget : Stupid!

Later this week a report will be released which concludes that California schools are woefully under-funded--one estimate of the shortage was nearly $1 trillion.
Anthony York.

The document, a collection several reports, is the most recent comprehensive evaluation of California’s school system.
The reports should be considered with care.

After all, the legislature and governors have tried everything else.
They have listened to the corporate over seers.
They have tried Immediate Intervention in underperforming schools. (IIUSP)
They have mandated phonics.
They have created API and High School Exit exams.
They have mandated assessment driven reform.
They have encouraged an A-G (college prep) curriculum.
They have imposed tests of teacher knowledge and skills.
They have mandated an unproven process of teacher performance assessment. (SB1209)
And more.

The legislature and governors have meddled and muddled, 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 , major school reform efforts stress standardized testing as the driving force behind schooling at the k-12 level, particularly in low income districts. There is always some new advocate who has a solution to failing schools; phonics, exit exams, etc. rather than to face the real issue of grossly inadequate funding.
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)
In fairness, it 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.
Why has this avoidance of responsibility occurred? Because the legislatures and the Governors do not have their children in these schools. There children and grand children go to relatively well off suburban schools. So, they can easily conclude that the problem is that these poor Black and Brown kids just need to work harder, to take another test.
Duane Campbell
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