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News flash: CA schools are unequal

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 at 1:30 pm in achievement gap, dropouts, elementary schools, English learners, families, finances, high schools, middle schools, NCLB, school reform, students, teachers, test scores.


Tribune file photo by Ray Chavez

California schools don’t have enough funding and they provide “inadequate and unequal learning conditions and opportunities,” according to the latest annual report by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.

The report is more of an advocacy piece than a research analysis, but it does raise (and answer, in no uncertain terms) important questions about the state of public education in California — its class sizes, course offerings, college-going rates, graduation rates, among other measures. 

Researchers compiled a fact sheet on Oakland Unified, as well (I found at least one typo — I’m sure there are more than 174 middle school students in the city).

Did any of the authors’ findings come as a surprise? Do you agree with their conclusions?

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  • Concerned Citizen

    I don’t need to read their findings to know that our children are still held hostage by the National Teacher’s Union. Class Size, my arse! The list of great accomplishers in our society is long where class size was in the 60 student per teacher range. Presentation by the teachers and Accountability of the students will save our children from the slippery slope to a third world state. Ending the nonsense of tenure to weak teachers, and reducing cost like $10,000 for AP Spanish to Spanish speakers and the ever-expanding administrator bureaucracy must stop! I know this is falling on deaf ears, since most of you blindly voted for the big-spender/Reaganite flip-flopper Obama. Change, my arse…

  • cranky teacher

    CC: Do you propose banning unions?

  • Nextset

    Schools are unequal because the students in them are unequal.

    People are unique, they’re not interchangable pieces of bricks. What difference does it make if we have different scores on a school full of 3rd world illegal/legal aliens, a school full of fatherless children, and a school full of the children of college educated, or a school full of children of the military servicepeople? In each case the performance is of course very different and there is nothing wrong with that, it is expected.

    Radical/liberal political groups keep yelling the sky is falling – or just that it’s raining today. Tell us something we don’t know. Tell us something significant. This report is insignificant.

    What really is astonishing is the plan to punish teachers because their students do poorly regardless of whether or not other teachers typically get better results from the same student profiles. Doing so creates strong disincentive to having such students around in the first place. It’s not rational and that is what NCLB and it’s ilk are all about.

  • Chris Vernon

    I’m sure the numbers are largely valid. I was curious about the small but not insignificant number of students from the OUSD high schools that go on to private colleges and universities – how are they accounted for? – This link is to a listing of the college bound students from OUSD in 2008.
    http://webportal.ousd.k12.ca.us/docs/8693.pdf

    The report only documents students that go on to community college, CSU’s, and UC’s.

  • Steven Weinberg

    This report seems to be a mess of incorrect statistics and arbitary definitions. I don’t believe that more than 90% of OUSD high schools have more than 10% of their students enrolled in AP Math classes in the 12th grade. I know that more than 25% of Frick’s faculty is fully certificated. (This figure may have to do with using the high school credentialing requirements for middle schools.) I know the percentage of English Language Learners at our school is incorrect. Most people don’t judge whether a school is overcrowded or not by dividing the site acreage by the number of students. Even if you agree with their conclusions, as I tend to do, this report is an embarrassment.

  • Katy Murphy

    I also had a lot of questions about this report — the college-going rates (looking only at UC/CSU admissions), to name one.

    Also, the claim that “California students experience fewer educational opportunities than students across the nation” seems too sweeping to substantiate, even if most would agree — at least in part — with the statement.

  • CollegeStudent

    The problem is not in the data of the findings, but it is that fact that California, the most “progressive” state in the country is still very much segregated. As a white male college student I have not faced the academic challenges that many of my minority friends from high school college have had to face. Variables such as low expectations from teachers and administration, prejudices and racial tracking in AP courses did not effect me while I was in school. I attended a school that was roughly 30% White, 30% Black, and 30% Hispanic/Latino. In my AP classes these demographics were not represented at all. There were 2 Black students in ONE of my AP courses. This comment is to the white adults out there who persist on ignoring social ills that still exist and continue to persist today by going back to the “everyone’s an individual argument”. While yes, we are all individuals, it is ignorant and even foolish to not acknowledge the disparities that exist in education today based on race and class. I have nothing to gain by taking this stance, and I could easily make my life a lot easier by pretending that these problems do not exist as many do. Privatizing schools won’t work. Vouchers are not a solution. And getting rid of unions is ridiculously Un-American. Like it or not, California still needs to integrate its schools…