White voters, with their own children in private or suburban schools, have written off schools for other people’s children, concludes The Economist’s review of education in California.
Back in the 1960s, California had the fifth-highest spending-per-pupil rate in the country. Now it ranks 30th and spends $7,240 — around $600 below the national average and $4,300 below the level in New York. Yet its education challenges are greater than those of any other state. Not only are so many of its pupils learning English as a second language, but many of them are poor and their parents move around a lot. In many urban high schools, fewer than one in 20 students of an entry class will graduate from the same school.
The results are depressing. Californian students score below average on every national test; only around half California’s students are proficient in the basics. In 2002, California ranked 43rd in verbal SAT scores and 32nd in mathematics. One in five Californians aged 25 and over lacks a high-school diploma—the ninth-worst figure nationally and hardly a good omen for the knowledge economy.
. . . Education epitomizes the state’s problem with government. There is the wide gap between public and the private systems; a public-sector union adamantly protecting its turf; an incoherent administrative map; and a lunatic funding system.
Via Lloyd Billingsley of the Pacific Research Institute, who focuses on the establishment’s hostility to school choice.