Thursday, October 01, 2009

Budget Woes, school reform collide

 In an interesting article, “ Budget Woes, school reform collide.” By Diane Lambert in the Sacramento Bee of Oct. 1,2009, the writer gets to the point.  Many, including this writer, think that school reform efforts are a political  fraud when you take $6.1 Billion from the schools. 
In the article State Superintendent O’Connell says, “Cuts have been devastating and schools have been hustling to keep the lights on.”   “Painful decision have had to be made because education is not a priority.”   The federal stimulus, “does not come close to making up for the massive cutbacks imposed on schools.”
Amen. Brother.
Then,  O’Connell says,  “ California schools must continue to improve test scores and narrow the achievement gap, despite the diminishing budget.”
Huh?  Who?

The most essential problem with the politicians approaches to school reform is that they listen to promoters and not to teachers. 
            The people  who make school reform work are teachers and students.  Not legislators, not promoters, not governors.  Lets look at some fundamentals.  Some schools have 17 students per class, some have 34 students per class, and some have as many as 42 per class- particularly in California.  Then, all the students are measured on the same test.
       If I am a 1st grade teacher and my class size goes from 20 last year to 25 this year, how will I do a better job of teaching reading?  If I am a 10th. grade teacher and my class size goes from 32 last year to 42 this year, how will I reduce the school drop out rate?  By issuing press releases?
            The most basic decisions on class size  in schools are made by the Governor, the legislature, and the voters. In last year’s budget deal, the legislature  and the Governor  cut some $6 billion from the k-12 schools forcing lay offs of teachers and increasing class sizes.  Many art, music, and career technical teachers were dismissed.  California already ranks 49 out of the 50 states in counselors per student.  That is why there are so few counselors in schools.  California now has the largest class sizes in the nation and one of the worst drop out rates.  Our Senators and our Assemblypersons voted for this.  They argue that they had no choice.
            The legislature, enjoys  a 16% approval rating from  voters.
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