I worked for ten years as a teacher in American public schools. In my childhood, California public schools were among the best in the country.
One of the main but almost never stated reasons California schools do so poorly is because of the massive growth in the Hispanic population of California. The literature and my personal classroom experience supports the contention that the Hispanic/Latino culture places little emphasis on academic/intellectual achievement.
Permitting millions of illegal and legal Hispanic immigrants to California is one of the main reasons academic achievement has declined in California. The factors mentioned by the author in this article will do nothing to change this situation.
... "in science, they ranked second to last, topping only Mississippi."
Thank God for Mississippi!
- Jerry Brown, Governor
"average salary of $67,871, not counting their generous pensions"
And not counting astronomical cost of medical coverage which in some cases is free for life.
I am constantly perplexed by the failure of the big media outlets to discuss the points "Former teacher" makes below. Certainly, the unions are insensitive, and in some cases, grossly insensitive, to student performance concerns and more or less consistently conduct themselves like the finest rent seekers on the planet, but Former teacher has identified the primary cause of achievement declines in California. I suppose one can argue since the primary cause of the problem is so patently obvious to so many that the failure of the big media outlets to discuss it has had only nominal consequences. Indeed, if the problem were discussed far more openly than it is today, no doubt the unions would press for even more money to solve it, casting aside the principle that cultural and family problems as regards education are among the most intractable we have faced.
Don't get me wrong - the unions are worthy of lots of criticism - but even if the unions magically became responsible stewards of the education system - likely only marginal improvement would maintain.
Here are a few points of reference on California public schools. Thank goodness for Washington, D.C.'s, Alabama's, and Mississippi's public schools or we'd look bad.
California Public Schools and Performance on National Assessments
California Public School Demographics (1993-2011)
Proposition 30 gave California ...
* the highest state sales tax in the nation.
* the 1st-, 2nd-, 3rd-, 5th-, and 7th-highest state income tax rates in the nation.
Naturally, Proposition 30 was bankrolled by California's top two political spenders, who also just happen to be public-sector employees unions that will greatly benefit from increased government spending and higher taxes.
California Proposition 30: Governor Jerry Brown's Big-Government Tax Hike
Thank You Proposition 30 Supporters!
Seldom considered with school choice is the incredible savings for taxpayers. TRUE school choice (education vouchers or tax credits) reduces the taxpayer cost per student from $10,000+ per student to perhaps $6,000/student. And that understates the savings, when one considers the cost of archaic county school boards of education (over $600 million annually in San Diego County alone), the state education bureaucracy and the federal Department of Education.
Vouchers also eliminate the risk of future unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities and -- perhaps most important -- guts the education public employee labor unions -- the bane of state and local governments and education.
As a former teacher of 9 years in the public school system, nothing in this article deals with the actual underlying problems.
The main interconnected problems are the expansion of the California population by about 20 million,the majority from a Hispanic cultural tradition that places a very low value on academic success, and has an out-of-wedlock birth rate of about 50% in California.
However, we cannot openly discuss this as all cultural traditions are supposed to be of equal value in the 21st century, even if it is patently obvioius that they are not.
No additional amount of money or 'reform' will improve schools when the problem is in the home. Disinterested parents, lack of discipline, weak family support structures, and an underclass culture that does not value education - all these are beyond the helping hands of government.
The problem for reforms has been, and to a significant extent continues to be, no clear direction. That shortcoming is, however, being remedied by an increasingly impatient public and that direction is parental choice.
Concentrating on parental choice provides a magnet to attract all disaffected parents and will be inherently interesting to *all* parents. A parent may choose to put their untroubled faith in government employees but they'll still be pleased that they have the choice.
And those are the parents who insist on believing in district-based public education. There's no small cohort of parents who can look at their bleak life prospects and know that but for a better education they'd be better off. I think it's self-evident that they'd be enthusiastic supporters of parental choice so as to rescue their children from the fate that befell them.
So, parental choice is the issue that education reformers ought to rally around if we want to see a reform of the public education system.
When the data is as clear as it has been for decades that the system is a performance failure and a financial theft of resources needing significant reform AND the populace of the State voters not only accept the status quo but actually enlarge the scope, what is the explanation for the voters behavior? Clearly, advertising pays and the teacher's unions are happy to spend 10-20 times the spending of any competing proposition effort. Doomed is the word best describing both the State and the institutions therein.
California is going down because of the expanding minority population. Only the asians and whites are propping up CA. You can't have a large segment of the population (hispanics and blacks) that don't value education and have a low IQ and expect success. Sure, teachers share some of the blame but the majority of blame lies with the parents.
Thanks for the newsletters. It will greatly help me as a reference for my teaching in my school.
It's in one of the remotest part of the world.
Mr. Osbourne Terry
History and Geography Strand
Department of Social Science
Kikori Secondary School
Papua New Guinea
It's Agenda 21. Look at the education section. Better education>better jobs>better income>more consumption...and that's against 'sustainability.'
Moreover, can't have an educated population. Too hard to control. America spirals down. Americans are waking up slowly, but it may be too late.