Sausalito Marin City School District spends more than $22,000 per student — three times the California average — and pays teachers an average of $71,000 a year. Classes are small. Yet students — three-quarters come from low-income black and Hispanic families — post mediocre results. Bill Evers and Paul Clopton, writing in the Marin Independent Journal, blame progressive fads and long-term incompetence.
Out of 1,025 districts in California, Sausalito is ranked 724th, which is at the 29.4th percentile.
. . . Decades of a different curriculum in every classroom, ineffective and unevaluated teaching practices and teacher training, overemphasis on student self-esteem and low academic expectations created an academic deficit that has been hard to repair.
Wasteful spending and weak discipline policies led to a 1998 recall campaign in the small district.
District leaders have recently improved the coherence of the curriculum and adopted a high-performance reading program that emphasizes phonics first, rather than the district’s previous whole-language instruction. District leaders also reduced the proportion of children designated as learning disabled. Much of the students’ learning problems had been the result of the district’s poor teaching of reading, and over-designation of students as disabled had contributed to the alienation of parents from the district. These recent changes have led to some gains in student test scores – principally in the lower grades whose students have benefited from recent changes.
But progressivists still hold power in the district and in the foundations supporting it, Evers and Clopton write.
Marin City, once segregated housing for black shipyard workers during World War II, is surrounded by wealthy, well-educated Marin County. Judging by the enrollment numbers, middle-class Sausalito parents send their children to the district’s charter school or to private schools.
In New Jersey, a lawsuit is trying to give parents an exit voucher from chronically low-performing schools that spend nearly as much as Sausalito Marin City, Betsy writes, quoting Clint Bolick’s Wall Street Journal column.
One of the defendant school districts in the new suit, Englewood City, spends $19,194 per student, well over twice the national average. But at Dismus Middle School, over two-thirds of the students do not have basic proficiency in math and fewer than half are proficient in language arts literacy. Newark, a recipient of massive Abbott funding, spends $16,351 per student and pays its teachers an average salary of $76,213. Yet in 24 of its schools, fewer than half the students demonstrate basic proficiency in math or language arts. At William H. Brown Academy and at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School, fewer than one of every 10 students demonstrates basic math proficiency. It’s time to try something else for these children.
Imagine what an inner-city parochial school could do with that kind of money.
Here’s Edspresso on the New Jersey lawsuit.