Bad report card

California schools are lousy, concludes a Rand report for the Hewlett Foundation.

Academically, California ranks 47th out of 50 states on national tests. One-third of its students attend overcrowded or disintegrating schools, and less than half its school districts require their teachers to hold specialized credentials in the subject area taught.

Compared to similar states, California does just as poorly.

When such family conditions as poverty and English language deficiencies were factored into the national results, California scored dead last in reading, 46th in math. Texas, with a similarly large and diverse student population and about the same spending level, came in first on reading and fourth in math.

California spends much less per student than some other big states: In 2001, California spent $7,434 per student while New York and New Jersey spent more than $11,000. “The report was clear — we’ve under-funded schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. Yet Texas seems to do a lot better with similar students and similar funding. Well, the cost of living is higher in California, pushing up salaries.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I wonder about that number. It would not surprise me if it were fudged somehow, to try and shame more money out of the taxpayers. As always, somebody keep an eye on the referee.

  2. Don’t be fooled by NJ’s spending. Much of it is waste. NJ has VERY small school districts. Like a one-school district (yes, a district with one K-8 school) will have a principal and a superintendent.

    I don’t I don’t what’s up with California. It seems weird that it’s so bad. But wasn’t that what happened in the 1980s after the mass adoption of whole language?

  3. Since we here in California are spending so relatively little per student, I guess I now know why the teachers in my middle-sized town have had NO type of pay increase for more than 3 years.

    But inflation continues to erode my salary’s purchasing power.

    And yet I continue to have 33-35 students in every class, as I have had for more than 10 years.

    And our test scores have been climbing every year for the past 5 years, and yet it’s not good enough, as the goal that we must “hit” moves upward each year.

    Go figure…

  4. Mr. Davis says:

    The teachers have one big advantage denied the students; they can choose to get a job elsewhere. When they are ready to give choice to their students, they will have my sympathy. Until then, I see them as prison guards without uniforms, but with an equally effective union.

  5. Mike in Texas says:

    I believe Joanne published an article last month raving about CA’s phonics only reading and what a fantastic difference it had made compared to the whole language only approach the state had tried. Looks like someone wasn’t telling the truth somewhere along the line.

  6. Mike in Texas says:

    Joanne wrote

    Yet Texas seems to do a lot better with similar students and similar funding.

    Is Joanne not familiar with the large scale cheating that went on in the Houstin Independant School District under Sect. of Education Rod Paige? Or the recent studies that have shown that so many of the so called “reforms” in Texas, upon which NCLB is based, are turning out to be not all that great?

  7. On the surface, Davis makes a very good point. What he may not be aware of is that here in California, teacher compensation is based upon a “salary schedule” that places large emphasis upon the number of years the teacher has taught in the DISTRICT where he or she is employed.

    Additionally, almost all districts limit the amount of seniority that may be “transferred in.” by teachers with previous service in another district.

    This number of years varies from district to district. It may be as little as 3 years in more affluent suburban areas where there is a surplus of teachers, to as much as 10 years in some inner-city districts that have difficutly recruiting/retaining quality teachers.

    In other words, when a veteran teacher changes Districts, it results in a permanent reduction in pay, which of course will also reduce the teacher’s retirement pension.

    The same holds true in most other states.

  8. Richard Nieporent says:

    In other words, when a veteran teacher changes Districts, it results in a permanent reduction in pay, which of course will also reduce the teacher’s retirement pension.

    And for all these years I thought that slavery was abolished by the thirteenth amendment! I suggest you get a better union or a better story.

  9. Andy Freeman says:

    Since teachers insist that they’re indistinguishable, it’s unclear why they should get any sympathy for the consequences of that position.

    However, it was nice to see yet another admission that it is all about the money.

  10. Yes, it would be nice if I could switch districts without a dramatic pay cut.

    But I’d like to see the whole salary system tied to the market system.

    If another district doesn’t want to pay me what I’m worth, it’s their loss. If they don’t care, that’s the problem.

    If a district wants good teachers, pay them well and treat them well.

    It would be nice to leave the union out of it.

  11. Is there any job where people feel they are completely and fairly compensated? I am always interested in the dollars per pupil figures because we use it as the measure of school success. I always wonder where the money is going. How it is spent is more important than how much.

  12. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Is Joanne not familiar with the large scale cheating that went on in the Houstin Independant School District under Sect. of Education Rod Paige?

    Maybe she just didn’t see it as unusual enough to be worth noting. After all, cheating seems to be a state-wide phenomenon so why single out Rod Paige? – here’s the Chicago Sun Times story: http://www.suntimes.com/output/education/cst-nws-cheat20.html

    Or the recent studies that have shown that so many of the so called “reforms” in Texas, upon which NCLB is based, are turning out to be not all that great?

    What studies? And please, no more links to union web sites. You may want to believe that their credibility is unimpeachable but that’s not a universally shared assumption.

    JennyD wrote:

    Don’t be fooled by NJ’s spending. Much of it is waste. NJ has VERY small school districts.

    The assumption being that large school districts don’t have as high an administrative overhead as small school district? Guess again. Large school districts inevitably fail to achieve the economies of scale their creation is based upon. In fact, they inevitably demonstrate the exact opposite. But they offset their poor economic performance with poor academic performance so it all works out.

    Eduwonk wrote:

    On the surface, Davis makes a very good point. What he may not be aware of is that here in California, teacher compensation is based upon a “salary schedule” that places large emphasis upon the number of years the teacher has taught in the DISTRICT where he or she is employed.

    Which brings up the question of why teacher’s salaries should be based on seniority at all? Since tenure is a lousy surrogate for competence, who benefits by compensating teachers on the basis of their time on the job?

    But inflation continues to erode my salary’s purchasing power.

    Maybe California uses a different currency then the rest of the U.S. then. From what I’ve read inflation’s been almost dead-flat for quite some time. Maybe it’s your after-tax income that’s eroded. That’s what happens when you have a ruinous tax rate.

    The one funny quote from the article was:

    “The report was clear — we’ve under-funded schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. “We have accountability, we have world-class content standards, the table is set. Now we have to provide nourishment.”

    Ah yes, the balm that heals all wounds. Blessed money, the sovereign remedy. All problems are solved by more of it – accept where people unaccountably want some accountability – and all problems result from too little of it.

  13. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen wrote:

    What studies? And please, no more links to union web sites.

    Would CBS News be good enough for you Allen? Here’s a link:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/01/06/60II/main591676.shtml

    How about a researcher from Boston College?

    http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v8n41/

    http://www.skirsch.com/politics/election2000/ad.htm

    How about Detroit News?

    http://www.detnews.com/2000/politics/0004/24/politics-41188.htm

    Of course as a Texas teacher (which I realize to you means nothing Allen) I can tell you that in the Spring of 2000, just as Bush was making a serious push for the presidency, a 5th grader only had to get 50% of the questions right to be considered passing. Lower the standards and you get a miracle.

  14. As usual either the links don’t say what you claim they say or they’re the opinions of people who’s axe-grinding is so obvious as to render their opinions valueless. This time though you’ve managed both.

    Here’s the money line from the CBS story:

    Now, as Correspondent Dan Rather reported last winter, it turns out that some of those miraculous claims which Houston made were wrong.

    Should we give ol’ Dan the benefit of the doubt here? I mean, he can’t be using fabricated evidence in all his blockbusters, can he?

    And while his fingerprints are all over the CBS piece, even though he isn’t mentioned by name, Walter Haney is mentioned by name in your other three citations. Quite the little renegade Walter is. He just can’t seem to find anything nice to say about accountability….oh, pardon me, the term of art is now “high-stakes testing”.

    So there’s your four trifles of support. One story by Dan Rather, the poster boy for journalistic integrity, an editorial from the Washington Post tarted up to appear like a news story and two links to articles by the educational equivalent of a Marxist economist.

    Of course as a Texas teacher

    Yes, well, about that.

    You were conspicuous by your absence when the Chicago Sun Times story of wide-spread cheating on the TAKS was published and link on this blog.

    http://www.suntimes.com/output/education/cst-nws-cheat20.html

    If you’re going to flog Rod Paige for being in charge of the Houston school district when cheating occurred you better have plenty of seats on that bus because he appears to have had a lot of company.

    But then illuminating all the facts wasn’t really what you had in mind, was it?

    So you’re right, the fact that you’re a Texas teacher is not really germane to this discussion so that doesn’t mean anything to me. The fact that you’re an idealogue does.

  15. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen wrote:

    You were conspicuous by your absence when the Chicago Sun Times story of wide-spread cheating on the TAKS was published and link on this blog.

    The allegations did not involve (for the most part) teachers but were against administrators. The initial investigations into the test scores in Amarillo have indicated no wrongdoing. I read the Chicago Sun Times story and found it to be the typical anti-public school propaganda published here. My personal opinion is if there are teachers involved then they should lose their certification. A link to the story about the Amarillo investigation can be found at http://www.texasisd.com

    So Walter Haney wrote the articles exposing the so called “Texas Miracle”? As a so called supporter of “reform” in schools you should be outraged that students actually did worse after the implementation of high stakes testing in every area except on the TAAS itself, the then used state mandated tests. Are did you not bother to read the evidence?

  16. Mike in Texas says:

    I’ll throw you another one Allen.

    Is the Rand Corporation good enough for you? They just released the study about CA. schools all you reformers are wetting yourselves with glee over?

    Here’s one on Texas

    http://www.rand.org/publications/IP/IP202/

  17. Mike in Texas wrote:

    The allegations did not involve (for the most part) teachers but were against administrators.

    “For the most part”? And I suppose the teachers that were alleged to have participated in the cheating, those one or two misguided souls, were just following orders?

    Give it a break, Mike. The day the first teacher walked out on strike for higher pay was the day teachers as a profession gave up any claim to the pursuit of a noble calling. You can be Mother Teresa or you can be Scrooge McDuck but you can’t be both.

    Is the Rand Corporation good enough for you?

    No.

    If Walter Haney is good enough for the Rand Corp then the Rand Corp isn’t good enough for me.

    But let’s get back to high-stakes testing which you seem to be convinced is bad for everyone except, I assume, fat-cat Republicans who want to starve a million poor children.

    Get used to it.

    The days of ever-escalating education budgets coupled with zero accountability are over and the reemergence of high-stakes testing is just one of the signals of that change.

    Since the public education establishment – teachers as well as administrators – has proven itself unable to resist that attraction of self-serving fads at the expense of the education you’ve been hired to teach, the public is now insisting on some standards. That’s not a sentiment that’ll change any time soon.

  18. You know, if you pay teachers enough money it doesn’t really matter how the kids do. The purpose of taxpayer funded education is not to help kids, but to provide a livelihood for teachers and educational union employees. Oliver Stone, George Soros, and Michael Moore are all correc that americans are just too stupid to get it. They all should just pay their taxes and stop expecting anything in return.

  19. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen wrote:

    The days of ever-escalating education budgets coupled with zero accountability are over and the reemergence of high-stakes testing is just one of the signals of that change.

    Laughable as always, Allen. I’m beginning to suspect that God himself could come down and tell you you’re wrong and you wouldn’t believe it.

    I can’t wait for the day the feds try to take over a $6 million dollar school building, paid for by local taxpayers, and try to turn it over to some of their good buddies in the private sector.

  20. Mike in Texas says:

    The day the first teacher walked out on strike for higher pay was the day teachers as a profession gave up any claim to the pursuit of a noble calling.

    Ahh, yes. How dare those evil teachers demand a livable wage on the same scale as other college graduates. How dare they take money from the wallets of deserving hard-working politicians.

  21. The purpose of taxpayer funded education is not to help kids, but to provide a livelihood for teachers and educational union employees. Oliver Stone, George Soros, and Michael Moore are all correc that americans are just too stupid to get it. They all should just pay their taxes and stop expecting anything in return.

    Of course, however, taxpayers like legion are probably those that also insist that the teacher be responsible when his kid doesn’t do homework, comes to class with zilch in his hands; will demand a 504 accommodation for this and more, then clamor that the teacher isn’t doing enough when the kid still doesn’t do squat, and then demand another yet 504 update.

    By this time, the kid knows that dad’s a sucker, knows that he’ll get his way no matter what he does (or doesn’t do, actually), and when his performance still sucks, dad will sue the district because the kid’s teachers are “failing him.”

    Yes, our asinine unions have a lot to answer for … I largely detest the NEA; however, it is the public itself that is just as responsible for the layers of bureaucracy that too many districts now have. Districts will cave to ridiculous parents rather than face a potential lawsuit. Parents — and kids — easily pick up on this and chaos slowly begins to take over.

  22. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Laughable as always, Allen.

    Yeah, and guess who’s doing the laughing? Just about everywhere I look I find a reason to chuckle. There’s the NCLB, charters and George Bush’s second term. Oh yeah, there’s some laughing going on and I’m doing it.

    I’m beginning to suspect that God himself could come down and tell you you’re wrong and you wouldn’t believe it.

    Now would that be an appeal to authority higher then yourself or lower?

    I can’t wait for the day the feds try to take over a $6 million dollar school building, paid for by local taxpayers, and try to turn it over to some of their good buddies in the private sector.

    Your touching concern for the children involved is noted.

    Ahh, yes. How dare those evil teachers demand a livable wage on the same scale as other college graduates.

    One or the other Mike. Either you’re doing it for love or you’re doing for money. If you want it both ways though you better get while the getting is good because the degree of credibility required to buy that proposition is a wasting resource.

    Hube wrote:

    Districts will cave to ridiculous parents rather than face a potential lawsuit. Parents — and kids — easily pick up on this and chaos slowly begins to take over.

    Yup, it’s a tragedy of the commons in the making. Good thing there’s such an obvious and faithful remedy.

  23. Yup, it’s a tragedy of the commons in the making. Good thing there’s such an obvious and faithful remedy.

    And you won’t get much of an argument from me as to the remedy, allen!

  24. Yeah, get rid of the commons. Of course, that’s a whole lot easier to say (write) then it is to do.

  25. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen wrote:

    There’s the NCLB, charters and George Bush’s second term.

    Hmm, what that be the charters that were just rejected in several states? Would that be the charters that recent studies have shown are doing no better and in many cases worse than public schools? And would you be referring to the law that many states are beginning to rebel against? That Michigan’s attorney general has determined is costing the state much more than it receives in federal funds to implement it?

    As for Bush, well I won’t cry about that one. I voted for him.

  26. Mike in T: Why do charters have to perform better in order to be established and/or continued? Why shouldn’t they be a legitimate choice for parents?

  27. Mike in Texas says:

    Well for starters, the charter school advocates have long claimed they could do a better job than public education. Now they’re backtracking b/c they can’t deliver on those promises.

    In addition, every dollar given to charter schools is a dollar taken away from public education. Unlike charters, public schools are required to educate everyone.

  28. MiT: You’re not speaking for all charters are you? ‘Cause here in Delaware, charters are kicking everyone’s collective arses. The Newark Charter School (where I was an angstrom away from taking a job last yr.) is light years ahead of their counterparts.

    And even though technically you’re correct about charters not having to “educate” everyone, so? Public schools should also not be so required, IMO. That’s their major defect, among others. Being required to keep criminals, those with multiple major school offenses, etc. are what mainly drive students (and parents) who care at the very least somewhat about a good education w/a safe environment TO charters.

    I don’t know about other states, but why aren’t there more so-called “alternative” schools for the chronically disruptive and criminals? (Hint: it ain’t PC.)

  29. its counterparts. (Next time I click “preview!”)

  30. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Hmm, what that be the charters that were just rejected in several states?

    Sure. It would also be the charters that are in 28 states and will probably be in a couple of more before this year is out.

    Would that be the charters that recent studies have shown are doing no better and in many cases worse than public schools?

    Would those “recent studies” be the ones that only show the proper outcome when the data is carefully cherry-picked?

    And even if your studies had some relationship to reality, it would raise the question of the organizational differences that lead to differing outcomes. You’re not going to suggest that having a district administrative hierarchy is a guarentee of educational superiority, are you? Or would you rather the question not be posed?

    Silly me, of course your not interested in finding out what works, only in finding out how maintain and engorge the current system.

    And would you be referring to the law that many states are beginning to rebel against?

    Now that can’t be the NCLB you’re referring to because once the hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing have run their course all the states are falling into line. You could, of course, offer some proof that there’s a large scale rebellion against the NCLB…..

    That Michigan’s attorney general has determined is costing the state much more than it receives in federal funds to implement it?

    Did he? Well, I’ll just alert the media to the astonishing phenomenon of a politician wanting more money. I’m sure that’s never happened before.

    In addition, every dollar given to charter schools is a dollar taken away from public education.

    Charters are public schools. They just suffer from the disease of accountability. Can’t have a terrible condition like that infecting the body politic.

    Unlike charters, public schools are required to educate everyone.

    Public schools are required to education everyone? I’d be interested to know where that bit of nonsense comes from. Public schools aren’t required to educate anyone.

    Even their wharehousing function is balanced off against whether the kid is more trouble then he’s literally worth.

  31. Mike in Texas says:

    You’re not going to suggest that having a district administrative hierarchy is a guarentee of educational superiority, are you?

    Are you kidding, Allen? I’d like to see most of the district heirarachy eliminated.

  32. Mike in Texas says:

    Hube,

    One of the recurring arugements people make here is that charters can operate outside of so many of the restrictions placed on public schools. But yet so many of them will gladly heap on more restrictions. NCLB has been called the most invasive federal law ever written in education but many here will scream to make schools free of the restrictions dragging them done and actively support the creation of more of those restrictions. They are blind to the fact these so called “reforms” are designed to bring public schools down.

  33. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Are you kidding, Allen? I’d like to see most of the district heirarachy eliminated.

    Hmm. A public school that isn’t part of a school district.

    I wonder, where can we find such a beast? What would such an arcane creation be called? Could something like that even exist?

  34. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen, here in Texas every little podunk town has its own school district. In the county I work in, pop. of about 50, 000 people, there are 6 school districts. I would guess the overhead costs of eliminating 5 supt. and various asst. supts. would be in the millions.

  35. That’s all very interesting but, other then complaining about evil politicians and meddling administrators, what’s to be done about it?

    Oh, I know. How about charterizing the whole state? Bim, bam, boom, the district hierarchy becomes a historical footnote.

  36. Mike in Texas says:

    Charterrizing the whole state?

    Very good, Allen Now you’re beginning to see what the real goal of NCLB is.

    There’s lots more money to made off of “failing” schools than successful ones, that is if you’re a rich friend of the Republicans.

Trackbacks

  1. California’s Schools Continue To Struggle

    I am a classroom teacher in a “typical” California junior high school. My colleagues and I see the challenges that our profession is confronted with every single day…

    For those of us who are serving students in the classroom, these are not stati…

  2. Terminating the old seniority rules

    Arnold Schwarzenegger may be the ultimate tough guy, capable of slaying dragons or gunning down a building full of armed men without breaking a sweat – but I’m betting even he’s not ready for the battle over merit pay for…

  3. gaming says:

    gaming

    Look for this symbol of casino games resources. It signifies that the Web site you are visiting was reviewed by casino games and accepted into its directory of select web sites.