Sunday, December 23, 2007

Life is better today, or is it?

The column, “Life is better today than it was 10 years ago,” in the Sacramento Bee Forum is half right.
It should say, life is better today for those who earn over $90,000 per year, or for the upper half of our income distribution. We have had a period in which the well off have made significant gains, and the wages of the working person have significantly stagnated.
So, if you are like Weintraub, and very well paid, then yes, for you, life is much better. However, if you work for a living then life is difficult. See the California budget project for details.

In education Weintraub claims that in 2007 there were increased numbers of 4th. Graders proficient or better in reading. I assume that he is using state test scores.
However, on national tests the NAEP Reading Scores for California give an average score of 209; we rank right along with Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia.
The NAEP results are important because schools and teachers can and do drill for the state tests, but not the NAEP. California has remained with the most poverty stricken states for the last 12 years. National scores on math have improved a little. (NAEP, 2007)
Since Prop.13 , California has dropped from one of the best school systems in the nation to 49th in class size and counselors per student, and 37th. in per pupil expenditure.
So, if you are well off, upper income, and live in a suburb- or if send your child to a private school, then, “Life is indeed better today than it was 10 years ago”.
However, if you work for a living and send your children to public schools- it is time for a change.
I would have sent this as a letter to the editor, but it is 300 words long. They only accept letters 200 words and less.

Duane Campbell
Professor. Education. CSU-Sacramento
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