The California State Board of Education has recently decided that all 8th. graders in the state should take Algebra. See prior posts on this topic.
By setting goals and standards and refusing to consider the resources needed to achieve these standards and to improve low performing schools elected officials and other policy makers create an appearance of responding to the school crisis . In reality they refuse to adequately fund the schools and to make real changes in the financing of those schools that systematically fail a substantial portion of our children, particularly poor students and students of color. By passing lists of standards without allocating sufficient resources, elected officials avoid the issues of raising taxes and spending money that any serious effort to provide equal opportunity would require.
Anyone serious about democratic school reform should first address their concerns to teachers. Teachers are the major resource available for improving schools. Unfortunately few legislatures recognize this. Teachers’ salaries are the largest part of any school budget. It is teachers—not administrators—who conduct the basic education process. Most teachers want to do better and would welcome an opportunity to help more students succeed. Reformers interested in improving the education opportunities for students should first look to help teachers perform their jobs better. Nothing in the State Board policy recognizes this reality.