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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Education failure is state crisis

Uploaded: Oct 26, 2017
One of the journalists I have long admired is former Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters who now has moved to the non-partisan CalMatters web site.

A recent piece caught my eye along with reporting in other papers. His column pointed out what an abject the failure the new state school funding is when measured by student achievement.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature plan to fundamentally change the school funding formula that had been in place since the 1980s was passed by the Legislature in 2012. It allocated more money to districts serving challenging populations such as students learning English or students from poor families.

The latest statewide assessment results were simply awful when for Hispanic and black students. Three-quarters of the Asian and more than half of the white students met the standards for math and English, but the results were terrible for African American students and (31 percent English and 19 percent math) and Hispanic students (37 percent and 19 percent). Said another way four out of five Hispanic students are failing in math and two-thirds of them in English.

Obviously, the influx of money has not resulted in improvement. The federal No Child Left Behind legislation, enacted with bipartisan support early in President George W. Bush’s term, was designed to force districts to deal with just this type of situation. Pleasanton fell short of meeting the standard with Hispanic students, requiring some focused attention.

Education funding has climbed statewide more than 50 percent over the last five years. Throwing money at the problem has yielded no results. The team at Marilyn Avenue School in Livermore has demonstrated over the last 15 years that poor Hispanic students will learn and flourish with committed teachers and aides.

Dealing with the issue, given the political clout of the California Teachers Association over the dominant Democrat party, will be a major challenge, but this is a crisis that threatens the economic future of the state. Hispanics already make up more than 40 percent of the population and more than half of the student population.

Education failure dooms students to poor-paying manual labor unless they learn a trade where there is a bright future. Given the overwhelming need for skilled workers, those options need to be laid out for young people. They still require basic math and English skills are still necessary.

One answer, particularly for low-income communities, is school choice — a concept that is poison to the teachers’ unions. An online poll last month showed that citizens believe the wealthy have abundant choices for their kids — not so for poorer people. That opinion resulted in 55 percent of respondents favoring vouchers or tax breaks to create options for parents.

Injecting competition, with economic opportunity and consequences, can only help. It’s the basis of American capitalism, but sadly missing in government-operated schools.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 26, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Mercury News: Web Link

The article may help one understand the variance in test scores.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 26, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Test scores aren't everything: Web Link

I support Trade Schools as an alternative for some students.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 26, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Top 30 US Trade schools: Web Link

I don't spend a lot of time re: schools, testing, etc...I find the topic very interesting and felt a need to explore it. Thanks!

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Oct 26, 2017 at 4:55 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.


Your blog on Education is timely given now that Billionaire Bill Gates, who has been a big supporter of Common Core curricula, is now tacitly admitting that Common Core is a failure: Web Link

Gates foundation has directly spent $400M and used over $4T (yes that's TRILLION) of U.S. taxpayer dollars to implement common core.

He wrote in his blog: “Based on everything we have learned in the past 17 years, we are evolving our education strategy," followed by "If there is one thing I have learned, it is that no matter how enthusiastic we might be about one approach or another, the decision to go from pilot to wide-scale usage is ultimately and always something that has to be decided by you and others the field."

The problem with this is that there was NO PILOT program. They rolled this out nationwide without the slightest idea on whether it would actually be good for students.

I predicted some time ago that it will be shown that this program will be a disaster and it's educational, political and financial backers made to look like fools and I stand by that prediction. Although he doesn't admit it outright, looks like Gates is starting to see data that the rest of us aren't privy to just yet.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Oct 26, 2017 at 7:34 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The schools on the Sioux Indian Reservation during the 1940's through the 1960's graduated one hundred percent of enrolled students, without a single dollar of government money!

Posted by Race to the bottom, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 26, 2017 at 8:58 pm

DKHSK posted a great link - it is a must read: Web Link

I asked a previous union representative why unions resist any sort of accountability. The answer was that by the of 60s and 70s, most highly capable teachers left the profession and would be teachers would not enter the profession. Whereas math and science teachers used to have B.S. degrees in chemistry or B.S. degrees in applied mathematics, now they have some very watered down teaching degree that emphasized how to teach rather than what to teach. And the 'what to teach' is very basic compared to what used to be taught.

The watered down teaching degrees do not have students take the highly competitive calculus and higher math classes that engineers take or physical science majors take. Instead the math classes are in the Teaching College and are very watered down basic classes.

So the bottom line is that the caliper of teachers now in the profession are much lower than what used to be the teachers of 40 to 50 years ago. And no amount of post - hoc teacher training is going to improve the teaching profession. And that is why the unions want no accountability.

Also accountability means the teachers would actually have to compete against themselves and try to be the best they could be. Unions do not want this. They want the same pay rate even if a teacher is chronically absent, does not know the material, etc. This ensures that no teachers will try to rise above the others.

Unions hate merit based pay and detest charter schools. And they cannot stand innovation.

This all makes sense.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Oct 27, 2017 at 7:06 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

Race to the bottom,

I have two kids in area schools, one in high school, the other, elementary.

Based on my observation at the HS level, teachers are actually in-class, in front of students only 4.45 hrs per day.

Yep, you heard that correctly, 4.45hrs per day. Most, if not all, have one period each day where they don't teach. Instead, they can grade papers and/or prepare for other classes.

I have yet to meet the teacher that will stay more than 15 minutes after school to make themselves available. That's not to say they don't exist, I just haven't met them and my oldest is a junior.

Coupled with a very generous holiday and vacation plan, teachers have it very, very good. Most don't know what its like to put in a 10 hour day with constant yearly work, like most of us.

I'm not bashing them, heck, its a great gig and their union has done a good job in securing these perks.

But I don't want to hear one damned complaint from them about work conditions in our schools or their pay.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 27, 2017 at 9:27 am

Teachers are not your slaves.

I strongly support unions and believe in teachers being protected from nasty parents.

If you're unhappy with cake!

Posted by Just a guy, a resident of Hart Middle School,
on Oct 27, 2017 at 9:40 am

Correct Cholo - it's obviously joe taxpayer who is the slave to the government class. I knew we'd finally agree on something.

Posted by Pololo Mololo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 27, 2017 at 3:22 pm

The Education Dept. has withdrawn 600 documents:

Web Link

I believe that it's an attempt to remove protections for disabled and racial/ethnic minorities.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Oct 27, 2017 at 7:51 pm

"One answer, particularly for low-income communities, is school choice..."

I'm having a hard time believing that "school choice" is the silver bullet solution to the low academic performance of many black and Hispanic students. Even in Pleasanton schools I notice that, as a group, black and Hispanic students tend to score lower on academic tests than other students, and I don't think that anyone can claim that Pleasanton schools are inadequate compared to other schools in the area. The problem is probably due to the fact that many of the black and Hispanic students come from families with parents who tend to have a lower educational background, and so these children don't get as much educational help and guidance at home as children who come from families where the parents are college graduates or maybe have even gone on for more advanced degrees. Education of children really starts at home. Don't know what the solution to the problem of being handicapped by coming from a family with a lower educational background is, but I don't think that "school choice" is going to fix that problem.

Posted by john, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 30, 2017 at 2:22 am

You could use any costs applications completely free by bypassing your phone to hack any type of android game. Once you use this

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Oct 31, 2017 at 10:32 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Education is such a complex issue. Yes, families are the first school and many students have parents who aren't home or don't speak English and have many other stressors that make it difficult to support their children.

When students arrive at school, should classrooms be homogeneous or heterogeneous? Should classwork be more project based and collaborative? Should the school day be longer; start later? Do magnet schools provide opportunity; which approach might support under-represented students best? Personally, I'm interested to see the results of Amador's pilot with block scheduling, an approach our children experienced and one I worked with and support.

Much of what would best support all students requires money. But the state realigned funding and then promptly started charging districts a larger share of pension contributions. So did any funding for programs really make it to students? With every salary increase there is an increase in district pension contributions; so until the pension issue is resolved, I think innovation, and therefore all students, will suffer.

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