Check out your school’s new rank

The good old API (Academic Performance Index) reports have just come out, assigning schools a rank from 1 to 10 based on how their 2007 test scores measured up to all the others in the state.


In case you were wondering, these “2007 Base API” scores aren’t exactly new results. They are just re-jiggered figures based on last year’s scores, which were released in August. The scores that came out today, on a scale of 200-1,000, reflect the latest formula the state has settled on for the 2008 API (based on the various state tests that kids take each year).

I plopped the scores and statewide rankings (as well as a “similar schools” rank that is supposed to compare schools to 99 others with similar demographics) into a spreadsheet and sorted from highest to lowest API base score.

In all, 130 Oakland schools received state rankings. According to my calculations, 13 of them earned a 9 or 10, meaning that their scores were in the top 20 percent. On the other end, 86 rank a 1 or 2 — the bottom 20 percent.

Of course, as API scores statewide have risen, a school could find itself with a lower ranking despite higher scores. Here are charts created by the California Department of Education that show the change, over the years, in what elementary, middle and high schools need to score to land in a particular percentile.

Notice any interesting trends?

image from CraigOppy’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Sue

    The obvious thing that jumped out at me was the dip, or at least flattening, of all the graphs in 2002. I’m not sure how to interpret that. I’m sure others will have interesting comments.

    Of course, I was pleased to see good numbers for younger son’s elementary school, and for the middle school he’ll be attending in the fall. And I was less pleased with Skyline’s numbers – where older son is a student – but it was still better than most of the other high schools’ results, so there’s some small comfort.

    – Off topic –
    Of course, the bigger comfort for older son came a couple of weeks ago at his IEP meeting. Huge thank-you’s to both his inclusion teachers!
    (If they have time to read this blog.)

  • Unclear on the Concept

    The trend I notice is that if you go to a “Hills” school where the community is wealthy and can raise a lot of private money for the school, you’ll score 9 or 10.

    Hillcrest Elementary – 10
    Thornhill Elementary – 10
    Montclair Elementary – 10
    Chabot Elementary – 10
    Miller (Joaquin) Elementary – 9
    Redwood Heights Elementary – 9
    Crocker Highlands Elementary – 9
    Kaiser Elementary – 9

    Anywhere else…good luck.

  • Katy Murphy

    It is certainly true that hills schools are at the top of the list, as they seem to be every year. But so are Lincoln Elementary School, which has a free/reduced price lunch rate of over 80 percent; the American Indian charter middle and high schools; and the Oakland Charter Academy, in Fruitvale.

  • Nextset

    I’m noticing the references to the Elementary schools – my main concerns about school performance focuses on the Jr High or High school level. That’s the point (puberty) where the differences and the declines make themselves forcefully known.

    You may have numbers in the primary grades that don’t alarm you and see things go downhill fast once the students cross that line of puberty. The public schools need to work harder to hold the line on behavior and performance from puberty on. The schools are too eager to talk about primary schools for this reason. It’s easier to mask the problems in those schools.

    If the public school system is worth the tax money they will give us good numbers at grades 9-12. And I understand that at that point some students can’t handle the abstract concepts and need to stay concrete – great – but I’d expect every school district to have at least one school 9-12 that (like Lowell in SF) manages to produce college ready product. The other high schools in the district must produce at least military and industry ready product. The alternative schools are where the jailbirds IF ANY should be found. And with a good alt school maybe we can minimize the jailbirds..

    The A Track goes to college, the B track goes to work, and the C track goes to jail.

    OUSD is not doing enough for the B track and is allowing the C track to grow larger than required. This happens because the district (and others like it) insist there is no tracking, that all are created equal – had better stay together, and take those tests together…

    Maybe I’m wrong and OUSD actually has a little publicised program where students with vocational potential are identified early and routed into Jr College vocational programs. I really hope so.

    9th grade is where everything changes. The school districts needs to systematically place students in programs that keep them working at their various limits so they don’t become disaffected with society and drop out.

  • Public school fan

    It is also worth noting that Kaiser Elementary does not have many neighborhood kids attending the school. Most of its student body comes from outside its “neighborhood.” So, once again, it is important to look beyond the scores to see what any of this might really mean.

  • Nextset

    Piedmont High School had a API of 896 and their Alternative (Continuation) High School had a 730. Lowell High School in SF had an API of 938. OUSD’s Highest scoring High School had a 742, the 270-student School For The Arts.

    It seems to me that if Oakland created a Maximum Achievement High School and invited in their most promising students (of any race) Oakland could field a high school that would rival Lowell and Piedmont High for performance and college seats. Right now Oakland is scattering their best students all over the place. The proposed High School would have district-wide attendance. And if they could use a centrally located campus so much the better. My high school Biology and Physics classes were at Oakland Tech which was easy to get to – which had great labortories at the time.

    I would argue that these higher achieving students aren’t productive being scattered among the many high schools and should be concentrated.

    I believe from experience that classrooms are more manageable if the students are not so diverse academically. Cohesiveness of the class is a good thing. And it’s better for the more academic students to be challenged from 9th grade on, than to have them wind up in college and face real competition for the very first time.

    OUSD has taken themselves out of the Bay Area running for having a “real” high school. I think Oakland could field a competitive high school and doing so would improve the reputation of the entire district. Why should San Francisco with all their people and high schools have an unchallenged run with Lowell as the Bay Area’s academic champ? There is talent in Oakland students and in OUSD’s faculty somewhere if the school would stop suppressing it. Piedmont is trying to peel off their academic lesser lights with their own Alternative school (they used to dump problem children in Oakland) – but PUSD is too small to effectively segregate their “brights” and challenge Lowell. Oakland is huge. OUSD could actually do this.

  • Sharon

    Yes, Nextset, your ideas make a lot of sense to me. I really like the challenge to OUSD to become seriously competitive with the city across the Bay, the sister who has always been the pretty one in the family. That urge to compete might stimulate a change.

    I would say, though, that many students start to seriously falter in early middle school. What course of action would you advise for that level?

  • Katy Murphy

    Actually, the American Indian Public Charter High School — a new school that opened in the Laurel District last year with about 65 ninth- and 10th-graders — scored a 940.

  • Nextset

    Katy: I ignored the Charter Schools, I was only interested in the results for the Public High Schools. While I respect what the Charters are trying to do I think the large publicly run High Schools should be more competitive and point to Lowell High in SF as the standard to beat.

    Sharon: I sub taught for a semester several decades ago. I covered mainly grades 8-12 with a few trys at 6th grade for variety.

    I agree that puberty – typically grades 5 to 8 is the tipping point where the large public schools lose all control of the students. How to get control? More male teachers, more authoritarian teachers, more staged competition among the students, more lectures, standards, rules and demands on deportment for the students, more segregation of the students by ability, interests and functionality. And more opportunities for physiciality and success (usually Voc Ed success) for the students with poor cognitive skills (other than successfully beating up the other students and cursing out the staff) and lots more tribal identification and activity for the students once they are tracked.

    Some of these things are actually occurring with the proliferation of “high schools”. I am seeing that the OUSD High School population is being split by “tribes” among the Charter High Schools, the Alternative High Schools, the traditional High Schools, etc. Now if we could get them all football teams to fight each other we’d have the competition thing going.

    Seriously, the rise in the number of schools even splitting campuses into different “schools” serves to segregate and tribalize the students. Is this overt enought to accomplish the goal of segmenting the cohort? I’m not sure because I don’t know enough about the resulting cultural establishments.

    I do think that OUSD has not even attempted to develop a high school to rival Lowell or Piedmont High – and it should. OUSD has the population to assemble a truly competitive academic high school and staff to teach in it (Plus UC Berkeley might be pursuaded to participate in it as UC did with the Oakland Tech Demonstration Summer High School).

    What all these schools do is a form of tracking. Still, I doubt the tracking is overt enough so far to actually get your All Star Teams assembled.

  • Caroline

    Any school that selects based on academic criteria is likely to score high, and Lowell is tough — I know lots of smart A students who haven’t gotten in. It’s not magic, just the result of that admissions process.

    And of course charters get the same benefit to a large extent. Nobody’s overseeing their enrollment processes, and they are perfectly free to screen and pick and choose as they see fit, without supervision or monitoring. Gateway Charter High School in San Francisco, as I’ve posted before, claims to admit by blind lottery, but with a big wink-wink — they require a 9-page enrollment app, an essay, teacher recommendations, signed parent commitments — all to get INTO the alleged “blind” “lottery.” Nobody smarter than my Labrador believes that claim.

    Just to send the charter fans into a tizzy, I’ll point out that they’re also much freer to cheat in every other way too. I was posting that comment a while ago in another discussion, charter supporters were having conniptions, and right then the Uprep story broke. Just saying they are quite free to do it IF they want to.

  • Mr. G


    I respect your right to say whatever you want, but I hope you understand the impact of your words.

    I’ll say the same thing I said last time you brought up cheating. Unless you have proof about a specific school, you should keep it to yourself – for the sake of the kids who work hard and score well.

    Uprep deserves exactly what they got. They cheated and now they are gone. Their principal was an idiot.

    But to insinuate (without the courage to state directly) that charters are cheating is the same kind of passive racism that surfaces when you talk about the selection process. As if a bunch of Mexican and black kids couldn’t possibly do well without some help from the system.

    Just because some schools cheat the system, don’t ruin the reputations of the hard working kids from honest schools who study hard and do well to further your crusade against charters.

  • Public school fan

    As I’ve noted before, I think that OUSD should set up a city-wide academic magnet school for middle school. There’s a big exodus of kids out of OUSD right after 5th grade because there are few, if any, good middle school options for the caring and serious student. I think that OUSD should try to recapture some of those students (and their families).

    While it is understandable given all of the diverse and serious problems in OUSD, I get frustrated that so much time, attention, and money is focused on the bad in Oakland. There are a lot of smart and creative kids in the system and their parents will eventually move out of the district, go charter, or go private so that their kids will get an academically challenging education after elementary school. It would be beneficial for OUSD on many different levels to provide even some pittance of support for these kids; but it isn’t happening. On a cynical level, think how some of the test scores would go up if you could keep more of these kids in OUSD. But supporting the top students city-wide doesn’t seem to grab anyone’s attention at OUSD. Hence, no academic magnet schools at middle or high school level.

  • Caroline

    Why is it passive racism to say that a school that can pick and choose is likely to wind up with a more-motivated, higher-functioning student population? That’s the case if every student is green.

    In my district, the charters don’t generally serve a high number of nonwhites, so that comment doesn’t even compute. (If you took the total charter student population in SFUSD and compared it to the district’s total population, the charter population would be far, far whiter.)

  • Katy Murphy

    Although it doesn’t say so in its name, the Oakland School for the Arts — the one with a 742 API — is a charter school, and a selective one (based on auditions).

    Looking at the list, it appears that Skyline is the highest scoring non-charter high school in Oakland, with a 652. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Katy Murphy

    Speaking of cheating insinuations (and other explanations for high test scores other than hard work and skill), the former principal of the American Indian Public Charter School, Ben Chavis, told me last year that some Oakland educators openly speculated that his kids’ scores were too good to be true.

    When I interviewed people for a profile on Chavis, a number of them — including OUSD’s former charter school coordinator, Liane Zimny — hinted that one explanation for the middle school’s sky-high (and rising) test scores could be related to “demographics.”

    What I think they meant to say, at least in part — and what others have told me, outright — was that more Asian American students and fewer Native Americans and African Americans were attending the school than in previous years.

    Based on district-wide averages, the more Asian students = higher test scores theory might ring true. But if you look more closely at the American Indian school data — from 2006, anyway (the last time I checked) — you’ll see that its African-American, Latino and Asian students, for the most part, were all up there together.

    Chavis said many inflammatory things about race (a whole conversation in itself), but unless the cheating conspiracy theories are true, his school was one of the few in Oakland without an “achievement gap.”

  • Steven Weinberg

    Sue, in response to your question about why the graphs for average API level off starting in 2003 and particularly after 2005, I think the answer has to do with the switch from the SAT9 test to the CST tests and later the CAT6. When API began it was based entirely on a national tests, the SAT9, and the lowest performance group was the lowest 20% of students. When California Standards Tests were created they took on a greater proportion of the API with each year from about 2002 to 2004. The lowest performance group for this test was about the lowest 15% of students, so this had the effect of moving 5% of the students from the lowest score band to the next one up. The scoring system for API rewards moving students from the lowest band the most, so all schools benefited. When the state changed its national test from the SAT9 to the CAT6 scores fell (as they always do when a new test replaces a test that has been used for many years). To keep the comparisons “even” the state added an adjustment to the scores that was equivalent to adding API points for every school.
    This is one of the reasons it is so hard to draw any conclusions from these state tests. It is like a baseball game where they wait until the game is over to decide how much each run will count, and each run can count a different amount.
    I would also like to know why it took the state until late May to announce the Base API figures and school standings. These used to be announced around January, but have gotten later every year.

  • jim2812

    What has not been covered is the new testing of special education students and what impact the change has made in API if any with some special education students taking a different test with different norms.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nextset

    Mr. G: You protest way too much. If Caroline’s comments provoke such a response in you, I’d be inclined to investigate.

    Those of us with some experience in behavior of organizations have no illusions about what will happen in high stakes testing – Pious comments that we can’t comment on these issues until after the jury trial are confirmation of our suspicions.

    And as far as your feeling on the race issue and test scores – well we know that things that are too good to be true are usually not true, especially if there’s a motive & reward for cheating. If scores are substantially off group norms, and there is no rational explanation for the anomoly, somebody has probably cooked the numbers.

    An example of rational explanation would be higher black test scores adjacent to a military base, or some other explanation where the test subjects have been pre-screened and are not random.

    NCLB forces the creation of the largest database of racially sorted intelligence & performance metering in history. We can only guess what this data will be used for with the application of modern statistical science.

    Brave New World.

  • jim2812

    Corporate charter schools as well as public school are prohibited from practicing for the STAR testing. Both type of schools are cheating if they engage in practicing for the STAR testing. My belief is both type of schools are guilty of that type of cheating. It is an open question as to whether charter schools practice test prep more than other schools. Certainly charter schools would seem to have greater flexibility to engage in a test prep center curriculum.

    I made this point about test preparation cheating before. For whatever reason there is little interest in the topic.

    The Ed Code reads:

    60611. (a) A city, county, city and county, district superintendent
    of schools, or principal or teacher of any elementary or secondary
    school, including a charter school, shall not carry on any program of
    specific preparation of pupils for the statewide pupil assessment
    program or a particular test used therein.
    (b) A city, county, city and county, district superintendent of
    schools, principal, or a teacher of an elementary or secondary
    school, including a charter school, may use instructional materials
    provided by the department or its agents in the academic preparation
    of pupils for the statewide pupil assessment if those instructional
    materials are embedded in an instructional program that is intended
    to improve pupil learning.

  • Sue

    Steve, thanks for the testing history. Exactly what I was hoping to learn.

    Jim, My older son is a spec. ed. student, and he does *not* take different tests than the general ed. population. There is no such separate, or different, test. Spec. ed. kids take the same tests as everyone else. That’s a requirement of NCLB, I think.

    Some years ago, we were opting him out of testing. But when the CAHSEE requirement for a diploma came into being, we started having him take the tests – in elementary and middle school, we got him accommodations, for example more time, more breaks, or someone taking his answers verbally and marking the sheet for him.

    This year, as a 10th grader, he took the CAHSEE for the first time without accommodations.

    Well, there was a mix-up, and the school failed to provide him with the testing materials the first day, so he only took the math portion. He’s supposed to get a retest of the verbal portion with the 11th and 12th graders.

    Still, his score was high enough to surprise his inclusion teachers, although not high enough to meet the graduation requirement. We (his parents) are still looking at what we (the IEP team) can do to get him through the testing successfully, and get him that high school diploma. His inclusion teachers are also looking at alternatives to the CAHSEE/diploma requirements, and at future work and career options.

  • Mr. G


    You lack the full context of this discussion, which has been ongoing for over a year. Caroline has a habit of suggesting that all charter schools who do well are cheating and all that do poorly should be closed for failing to meet their mandate.

    In addition, she tends to suggest that Charter schools are monitored differently when it comes to STAR tests, which is incorrect. The state and the district monitor the administration of these tests regardless of where they are given. If there are legitimate concerns that a school is cheating, then the monitoring can and should be easily be increased.

    You show your true colors as a cynic, not a realist, when you leave no room for the possibility that some schools may have figured out how to instill discipline in the classroom and adequately prepare their students to succeed by making them work hard and by working hard for them.

    If you don’t leave room for this possibility, then you would have to take one of two positions. Either public education is a complete failure and it should be eliminated, or STAR tests hold students and schools to impossible standards and should be eliminated. Which one of those positions do you hold true?

  • Sharon

    Re: demographic changes at the AIPCS

    According to my last DataQuest check a few months ago, the percentage of students who reported “multiple or no response” in 2006-07 was 26.4%.

    For every year prior back to 1996-97, the percentage was 0.0% with the exception of 1997-98.

    What’s up with that?

  • Sharon

    To add: The percentage of these students in 1997-98 was 2.9%

  • jim2812


    The State DOE webpage seems to have an alternative that is provided to some students with IEPs.

    Jim Mordecai

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    Home » Testing & Accountability » Testing » Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Printer-friendly version
    CAPA Participation Criteria
    California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) Participation Criteria assists Individualized Education Program teams in determining how a student should participate in the Standardized Testing & Reporting (STAR) Program.

    Test site coordinators are responsible for having students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) reviewed to determine if the students will take the California Standards Tests (CSTs) with no accommodations or modifications, take the CSTs with accommodations and/or modifications, take the California Modified Assessment (CMA), or take the CAPA. Since examiners may adapt the CAPA based on students’ instruction mode, accommodations and modifications do not apply to CAPA.

    IEP teams determine how students with disabilities will participate in the STAR Program. If the IEP team determines that the student should be assessed with the CAPA, the IEP team is also responsible for determining if the student should take the grade-assigned CAPA level or CAPA Level I. This information is included on each student’s IEP. Students with grade-level designations on their IEPs must take either CAPA Level I or the CAPA level designated for their individual grade level.

    Table 1. CAPA Levels.

    CAPA Level
    Grade Range

    ELA, Math, Science

    2 & 3
    ELA, Math

    4 & 5
    ELA, Math, Science

    ELA, Math, Science

    ELA, Math, Science

    Students who repeat grade eleven for multiple years continue to take CAPA Level I or Level V as their statewide assessment until enrolled in grade 12.

  • jim2812


    The CAPA is an alternative to the STAR assessment and not the graduation test. Neither the STAR assessment nor the CAPA would necessarily connect with the graduation test. API is defined under NCLB and it is the impact of CAPA on API what I feel needs better reporting to the public.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nextset

    Mr. G: I’m not yet prepared to say that public schooling is hopeless and should be abandoned.

    The reason for that is the work that public schools did in the hundred years before the civil right’s movement in assimilating immigrants and promoting class mobility in the USA. No private system would have done as much in my opinion.

    I believe the current unsoundness in public education is due to political correctness, refusal to discipline and refusal to track students. The three together is deadly and destroys class mobility. I believe this country is better off for having class mobility and the US is disserved by the current balkanization of the population (with no common set of mores).

    I welcome the Charters as one way to threaten the existance of many of the degenerate public schools, and would allow Charters to completely wipe out the publics in those geographic areas where the governing board (the electorate actually) are simply incapable of running schools. IE the Black areas.

    I think this is realistic enough.

  • Sue

    Thanks, Jim. I hadn’t heard of CAPA before, so I learned something new today.

  • Caroline

    Nextset “…would allow Charters to completely wipe out the publics in those geographic areas where the governing board (the electorate actually) are simply incapable of running schools…”

    But Nextset, you have acknowledged that it’s true that charters don’t teach the most challenging kids, the ones from messed-up, dysfunctional, oppositional backgrounds who are the thorniest issue for public education. I’m pretty sure you’ve even agreed with me that charters wouldn’t handle those tough kids any better than traditional public schools do. (In fact, even though they don’t take those kids, charters overall do not outperform traditional public schools, despite 15 years of trying, more money than God, and every possible powerful force in media, government and business promoting them.)

    So, what is the answer for those challenging kids?

  • Caroline

    Not really accurate, Mr. G.:
    “Caroline has a habit of suggesting that all charter schools who do well are cheating …”
    I don’t say they’re all cheating. I say they could easily get away with it, though, which makes the superstars with the sky-high test scores at least somewhat suspect.

    “all that do poorly should be closed for failing to meet their mandate.”

    I haven’t specifically said that. The problems caused by charter schools run deeper than that.

    “In addition, she tends to suggest that Charter schools are monitored differently when it comes to STAR tests, which is incorrect. The state and the district monitor the administration of these tests regardless of where they are given.”

    Then why did those vigilant and powerful monitors give Uprep a clean bill of health over and over and over? Uprep got busted because teachers blew the whistle to the press.

  • Nextset

    Caroline: The answer for challenging kids is to get them out of academic programs and off campuses for academic students.

    Beyond that I’d like to see programs for the loser kids, be they special ed, voc ed, ditch digging, military prep, psychotropic drug therapy, anything that the state can reasonably afford to offer. I don’t want to spend too much money on them – but I would reinstate driver’s ed and driver’s training in the public schools as a priority so that every public school child who is safe to do so would have a driver’s license at age 16 to 18.

    Of course the kiddies would have to be told early and often that they will be barred from behind the wheel training if they have a detectable history of drug or alcohol use, other medical disqualifiers, or if their parents forbid them the program for punishment or safety reasons. That group will have to get behind the wheel training on their own time as adults.

    And I would cancel other programs as needed to finance the driving programs which I think has a priority over football, other sports, and college prep. I should be made clear that public schooling is for the proletariat first. Specialty ed (college track), and sports programs are luxuries. There should be enough funding to provide basic college prep only for those likely to be able to use it. It’s more important to have clean and safe facilities, cover general ed and the requirements for graduation and meet the schools other base requirements before we run Trig classes.

    And yes I’d fund enough counselors/social workers in public school districts to help the graduating class with job placement, military placement, vocational training placement and even college placement. I would not dump the grads in the street and expect the families to handle placement. The school staff should have the major hand in showing the senior class what their choices are for the next year.

    Once the public schools have covered their obligations to the working class in this country they whould only then start spending on getting the elite ready for Stanford. And I mean the cognitively elite. The rich are in private schools and are not part of the equasion. Public schools should have an available “Ivy” Public High School like Lowell High, but only for a number of seats that fit the number of cognitively gifted students on whom the money won’t be wasted (on kids who don’t want and can’t benefit from the exercise). Standards there would be the highest, the kids may have to wear formal dress.

    Basically I’m advocating a UK style public educational system. I believe it doesn’t waste the money ours does, nor annoy the kids so much they tend to riot excessivly.

  • Caroline

    I agree with a lot of what Nextset has said, though I might use somewhat different language and have different views on some details.

    Ironically, this is the part that (as the parent of a non-driving 17 1/2-year-old) I’m not into:

    “I would reinstate driver’s ed and driver’s training in the public schools as a priority so that every public school child who is safe to do so would have a driver’s license at age 16 to 18.”

    SFUSD just dropped its requirement that students take driver ed to graduate — in time for my son not to have to take it. Parents around San Francisco are rejoicing, because so few of our kids are otherwise likely to be driving any time soon and it takes a pain-in-the-butt requirement off the table.

    My view is that teens shouldn’t be encouraged to drive. Too few of them are mature enough. The fact that my kid and his friends don’t drive is a huge benefit to being a San Francisco parent, in terms of safety and diminished worry about life, limb and damage to the property and safety of others. I think the fact that driver ed encourages teens to drive at all offsets the fact that they may get some info that improves their driving a bit — it’s still a net negative.

    My own husband disagrees with me –he’s from L.A., where it’s viewed as child abuse not to get your kid his license and a car the minute it’s legal.

  • Nextset

    Caroline: Interesting viewpoints, male and female. I have experienced parents (and others) who want to bind the feet of children (some as old as 26) and not let them have a driver’s license, a bank account, a debit card, a credit card, a job, a date… the list goes on forever.

    They are full of excuses as to why their otherwise normal child must be protected/sheltered/held back, etc.

    These people have several broken points of view:

    One, they think they and their child have forever to grow up. Well it’s later than you think.

    Two, they do not believe in ANY exposure or training or experience until the subject has some urgent emergency need to be an adult. They don’t teach them swimming either because the kiddies “might drown”.

    These parents usually prevent the kid from getting “dirty” in any way least they catch a cold.

    They are not doing their jobs as parents.

    This Brave New World we are living in is tough and is about to get really tough. The next generation is going to be experiencing falling standards of living and severe competition for middle class life. As I see the wreckage of people in the criminal (and civil courts) I see people who were never prepared to make it in life, and there are more of them now than in 1980.

    And yes I notice that certain ethnics and types of people raise their kids to be self sufficient better than certain others. The Holocaust survivors and their families in particular seem to have no illusions about being able to take care of oneself and realize the government can never be relied upon for protection.

    You don’t get a child a license to turn the family car over to them. You get the child a license because the age of the license determines insurance rates and non-possession of a license is used to disqualify applicants for responsible positions (like civil service janitor). There is a difference between qualifying them for licensure and giving them a car.

    But all this involves the value of strategic planning and being prepared – future orientation.

    This is a sore point for me. I deal with people of all ages, 18 to 40+ who wind up dead or in dire straights because they have NEVER had the most simple (middle class?) experiences because their bad families and their bad schools “didn’t think” they needed the experience, training, education, exposure, or anything else. They apparently thought children raise themselves and become adults just like the real adults.

    Car driving involves legal training, hand eye co-ordination, learning rules of the road and fitting into traffic, classroom and interaction with teachers, time pressure testing, getting your legal documents in order, etc. I see grown men & women who have never had it. Children of advanced age.

    And you would block this training from your child while having their cohort be so trained… where does that get your kid in life? I’ll tell you. A person trained to not learn anything until it’s an emergency. All their lives.

    Now lets talk about sex ed… Same point. Banking, Credit, Job experiences…

  • Caroline

    Those aren’t comparable, Nextset, because teenage drivers endanger others, not just themselves. And also, the statistics are really, really, really clear — this isn’t some fuzzy-headed notion that teens kinda-sorta might be a little bit worse drivers.

    In any case, this is way OT. I do agree with a lot of your notions about tracking troubled kids.

  • Nextset

    Caroline: I still distinguish between undertaking training to take a license and getting the license, and being handed a car to drive for leisure. It is seriously important for children who are not defectives to train for and get a driver’s license – especially while they are still under their parents supervision.

    I have no problem with a child being banned from training (not education) because he or she is defective or unruly. I believe a parent is in breech of their duties to raise a child to fit into society to haphazardly block education and training because the parent has a whim that they “don’t like” driving or teens driving. I see that attitude too often and it’s not just driving that gets involved. Those kids don’t have a (fair) chance to make it in society alongside normal kids.

    And not undertaking appropriate driver’s education and training helps ensure they become worse drivers. All the more reason why all teenagers of suitable age and deportment should undergo professional driver’s training, followed by supervised parental behind the wheel training which I submit is not the source of mayhem on the roads.

    Is your point here that you can make your boy a better man by keeping him out of professional training until he turns 18 and is on his own? Because that is absolutely typical of what I see and hear of why some of the backward people I deal with never learned how to swim, bank, write a letter, conduct the most basic consumer business… their parents always told them they couldn’t do anything until they were “older”.

    Meanwhile Asian and Jewish kids are running cash registers, running businesses, and navigating civil relations with adults by the time they are 15, not to mention traveling alone or lightly chaperoned, and conducting themselves well in public by 17.

    One of the reasons I have seen kids with potential refuse to go to college is that they have been so sheltered and crippled by certain families they can’t function as adults at 18 or even 20 or more.

    The driver’s license is more than a rite of passage – stop confusing it with a parental license to drive the family station wagon all hours. It’s is very important to get the kids ready for the possibilities they face at 18 and that darn well includes making sure they are skilled and licensed to drive.

    The Senate is about to reinstate the Draft. Age 19 is the primary target for draft. Being an adult is serious business and a normal “child” gets a license at 16 or immediately thereafter.

  • jim2812

    Response to unclear:

    Leave the hill schools and cross 580 for Cleveland and Lincoln and you’s find a 9 and a 10. Since I didn’t check out the rest of the scores in Oakland but checked up on two elementary schools that usually score high these exceptional schools may prove the generalization Unclear was putting forth.

    Jim Mordecai

    Unclear on the Concept Says:
    May 21st, 2008 at 2:58 pm
    The trend I notice is that if you go to a “Hills” school where the community is wealthy and can raise a lot of private money for the school, you’ll score 9 or 10.

    Hillcrest Elementary – 10
    Thornhill Elementary – 10
    Montclair Elementary – 10
    Chabot Elementary – 10
    Miller (Joaquin) Elementary – 9
    Redwood Heights Elementary – 9
    Crocker Highlands Elementary – 9
    Kaiser Elementary – 9

    Anywhere else…good luck.

  • Caroline

    Nextset, my son’s school doesn’t have driver ed, so we would have to seek out a course on our own to meet that graduation requirement. We’ll do that anyway at some point.

    I think the requirement was instituted on the assumption that all kids would be driving as soon as they were old enough to get a license, and I have problems with that assumption.

    (My kid, who is ethnically Jewish BTW, gets around the Bay Area on public transit on his own, organizes combos of his fellow youth jazz musicians for both paid and community-service gigs, and is not unusually sheltered.)

  • Sue

    – Off topic – re: teen driver’s licensing –

    Just had to comment, because last night my older son did his first lesson in the on-line driving course. He’ll be 16 next month, and he’s starting to get excited about driving. This is really fun for me, because even a month or two ago, he didn’t want to learn. Dealing with his autism, DH and I have really come to rely on the boy’s judgment about what he’s ready for, or what he’s not ready for, and the last six months / year we have seen some pretty impressive progress.

    Anyway, in general, I’m inclined to trust parents to know their kid, and to decide if their teen is ready and capable of learning to drive. I’m happy that mine is, for a whole bunch of reasons besides the autism and developmental factors.

    I’m also happy when responsible parents are looking at their own kids and deciding the opposite. If a kid isn’t ready at 16 or 17, waiting is much safer for that kid, and for everyone else on the roads. Getting a drivers license is a privilege, and not everyone deserves that privilege. Parents are in the best position to judge whether their own kids have enough maturity to responsibly exercise the privilege.

  • Nextset

    Sue: Parents must sign for Driver’s Training. No signature, no class. Parents have an absolute right to veto it. No problem with that.

    Parents do know when there is a hidden (or not hidden) defect that requires the kid not to be let behind the wheel. Sometimes the problem is one that is secret and isn’t going to be discussed. That’s life. I don’t have a problem with this.

    I just want that decision to be made with due consideration of the child’s future fitting in with his or her cohort. But if it really has to be, that’s life.

    Driver’s Ed on the other hand is classroom training in the rules of the road, etc. No one should be graduated without it.

    Caroline: I’m sure your son is great. My comments on a public blog are rhetorical and largely based on the problem people I see. As you probably have heard, inability to comply with traffic laws is a great gateway to law enforcement and the criminal courts.

    And that impairment is not racially equitable at all. Traffic court is appalling nowadays. A stronger public school driver’s program even boosting the classroom driver’s ed programs would give the proles a better chance making it in this Brave New World.

    I routinely see some people in custody for traffic infractions and misdemeanors. You are pretty disfunctional to be in the bucket for a seat belt, turn violation or cracked windshield violation (that’s how it started anyway).

  • Caroline

    Is this about lack of knowledge of traffic laws, or lack of concern with the need to comply with them?

    “…inability to comply with traffic laws is a great gateway to law enforcement and the criminal courts.”

    See my post on another thread about Elijah Anderson’s book “Code of the Streets,” regarding people who aren’t concerned with following rules.

  • Nextset

    Caroline: I know that a lot of people aren’t concerned with following rules. They are concerned with getting what they want. The population I see headed for roadkill have never been trained to function well enough to stay out of trouble. They are not retarded, they are in my opinion neglected.

    If they were “schooled” at an appropriate level they may still have some tendencies towards immediate gratification and self centerdness – but they would also be more effective in staying out of trouble and understanding exactly what trouble they are courting when they do take chances.

    You see, they really don’t understand the rules of the road in any way – traffic, vicarious liability, contract law, anthropology, gravity, nothing.

    I compare the 18 to 30 crowd I see in the courts (some are friends, relatives and victims, not just defendants) with the proles from the 1960-1970s. I believe they used to be more functional. Not they don’t even have driver’s licenses (anymore). If someone is willing a lot can be done to clean up their situation – and I have done that. It just galls me to be told over and over that nowhere in their life experience were they ever told (insert basic Middle class thing) despite all their years in – you guessed it, public schools.

    The public schools seem to overtly declare that they will never attempt to change anyone from the “culture” they came in the door with, not just the ebonics thing but all other aspects of class, mores, thinking and exposure to mainstream society. The schools think it’s wrong to “disturb” the “culture” of the kids.

    Rich get richer and the poor get children (and AIDS).

    Driver’s training is also a metaphor. If we don’t do something to give these prole kids a better chance in society (through public education) we are going to have a class system such as the UK in 1940 with diction, carriage and pedigree as the main/only determinant of who you are and where you can go in the US. And race will become the dominant factor as well. This country was never about that before.

    I am well versed in psychopathy – and I’d refer you to the books of Dr. Robert Hare on that subject. Like the rich, the pyschopaths are generally pretty good in taking care of themselves. The people I’m worried about are not psychopaths, they are just average people of average intelligence who might have been so much more than they were made.