Friday, January 13, 2012

California Schools get D in achievement

Education Week gives California schools a D for k-12 achievement, and an F for school spending.  The usually respected newspaper in its annual Quality Counts report gives the state an  overall grade of a C.  You can read their report here.
   If you look internally at the scores you can see that the Education Week editors, like California school officials, place emphasis on having committees, reports, and standards, all things that consultants and opinionators do,  and less emphasis on school achievement -where California gets an F.   Education Week has long been an advocate for “high standards” , assessment and accountability.  This is the mantra of one side of the  “Education Reform” industry.   California ranks high in these items.  However,  the data shows there has not been significant improvement in student achievement.
That is California excels at writing reports and issuing statements and promoting educational entrepreneurs , but lags behind in student achievement.  Diane Ravitch, speaking in Sacramento on January 20, is well informed on this trend she covers it in her book as the Billionaires Boys Club.
There is persistent, well supported evidence that the primary contributor to  low school achievement is childhood poverty.  Poverty is increasing in the nation and in California.  It is precisely schools in low income areas that are failing.  There are several posts on this blog by Stephen Krashen referring to this connection.  The relationship is extensively documented in my own book, Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education (2010). 

Researcher David Berliner in 2006 said,
“ The U.S. likes to be first, and when it comes to poor children, we maintain our remarkable status.  No other wealthy nation in the world has a greater percentage of  children living in poverty, except Mexico. 
    And, surely, it is no surprise to hear poor children do worse in school. ..
    Thousands of studies have linked poverty to academic achievement. The relationship is every bit as strong as the connection between cigarettes and cancer. “
School budgets in California have been devastated by the economic crisis and the state budget crisis since 2008.   Schools will have an additional cut this year and probably next year.  Until the voters rise up against the anti tax radicals, we are not likely to move from our ( F )rating in school finance.

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