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Public education in CA: Calling for your forecast

Save our Schools rally in Livermore. (Bay Area News Group file photo)

I’m working on a project about school funding levels in California and what will happen — to class sizes, to teacher pay, to labor relations, to the quality of education – if the downward trend continues.

As usual, I could use your help.

I’m looking at how these cuts will hit some students harder than others, depending on where they live and what their needs are, especially in the lower grades.

I also wonder to what extent the more draconian reductions we’re seeing this year (kindergarten classes of 30 in some East Bay districts, such as Hayward, San Lorenzo and Mt. Diablo) will keep even more middle-class families in California from using the public schools. If that happens, the public school system could become even more segregated.

What do you see playing out in Oakland or elsewhere in the Bay Area? Please share your thoughts and your stories here, and/or send me an e-mail at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com if you’d like to be interviewed.

P.S. I will be in the wilderness and away from modern technology from tomorrow morning through Monday night, so if your comment doesn’t clear for a few days, it’s nothing personal!

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nextset

    Very interesting point from Global Guerrillas about the USA Middle Class.

    http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2010/07/journal-the-decline-of-the-middle-class.html

    Basically the USA has decided to clear the middle class out. The Immigration/Diversity/Free Trade dogma we’ve seen since the 1970s is a critical part of that destruction.

    Here’s the connection to the Education Thread. Since our national policy is the destruction of the Middle Class and the transformation of the US into a Caste Society with no social & economic mobility, we don’t need all these schools.

    It is no accident that the US national government policy is to trash the public schools. One policy actually follows the other.

    The pious legislation and policy statements from Washington are only window dressing. They will say whatever sounds tasty to the masses, while actually doing destructive things to public education. NCLB for example.

    Brave New World.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins

    Last year in the relative privacy of one of the local business class’ social meetings, Reed Hastings (NetFlix CEO) told Silicon Valley Rotarians that the typical private S.V. school tuition of near $15,000 should give them an idea on how much it really costs to educate, with quality, one child in their community (4//28/09, Joseph DiSalvo, “San Jose Inside”).

    As far as Hastings’ estimate of $15,000 goes, his years of sitting on the CA State BOE (2000-2005) probably gave him a pretty good idea of the costs involved.

    Now here’s what’s odd. You will often hear people affiliated with business blame the public schools for inadequately educating U.S. kids, but, just as with Reed Hastings, you won’t hear them advocating for public schools to be provided with the amount of funding that (THEY KNOW) is necessary for doing a “quality” job! What’s with that?

    And while they refuse to advocate for scaling up public school funding, they satisfy their consciences by supplementing pet projects like Green Dot’s $15 million Locke “turnaround.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/25/education/25school.html

    All this is a variation of the duplicity Nextset mentions when he says, “They will say whatever sounds tasty to the masses, while actually doing destructive things to public education.” And as Nextset has observed, things are fitting into a pattern.

    Hastings is just one of the many corporate plutocrats who have been putting their fingers deep in the pie of U.S. public education for the past 10 years or so. He donated $1 million to Jack O’Connell’s campaign and was directly involved with getting CA charter school caps lifted. Hastings had a major role in starting Aspire, Green Dot, NSVF, EdVoice, and has been serving on Microsoft’s Board of Directors under Bill Gates.

    Nextset has put two plus two together, and this is what I’ll add: too many Americans are blindly trusting of the oligarchs’ “beneficence” and won’t consider ulterior motives. In actuality, via disseminating propaganda and targeted funding, the oligarchs are using their foundations as a tool to dismantle one of the largest remaining middle-class professions: K-12 teaching. While middle-class Americans have been kept occupied 24/7 by work, driving, TV, and shopping, corporations and plutocrats have usurped more and more and more control of U.S. national policy. Arne Duncan has provided their worker bees with a warm and cozy home at the U.S. Department of Ed.

    Nextset: Someday you’ll have to share what you think about Michelle Alexander’s ideas in “The New Jim Crow.”

    PS: I vote for Jim Hightower. http://www.jimhightower.com/

  • Nextset

    Sharon Higgins: I believe you are correct in the point that it is not an accident the public schools have been destroyed, and there are specific people behind the operation to destroy the schools with the intent to transform the USA to a place they can more easily dominate. And I don’t buy for a minute that the Gates’ Foundation is a good thing.

    It remains to be seen whether this was carefully planned over dinner or is perhaps being done on a subconcious level. Remember, the people who are busy destroying education include those who piously claim they want equality and uplifting the colored folk and all that. Nonetheless, what is happening is no accident.

    I do not agree with you about the money it takes to educate. Understand my point, it is very much NOT the money, it’s the discipline and the behavior, training and morals which make one able to pursue either skilled trades or a profession. These are carefully trainied OUT of the urban students, blacks and browns.

    I argue that the real thing the $15k a year is buying is not being around feral negroes. Look at the percentage students from single mothers in the urban publics vs the private academies. Other than that the education budgets are not the determining factor. Granted, it does cost $$ to run a science department and certain other advanced classes. Not everybody pursues sciences.

    And that is not the way it used to be. We decided sometime after 1960 to destroy social mobility in our blacks and browns. While some would continue to rise, the changes in public education and welfare policy would ensure the large majority would fall.

  • Nextset

    PS: Before people get outraged by the “feral negroes” comment I should add to that, the Mexican Gang children. Good people do not want to attend a campus where children of the Mexican Narco Cartel affiliates go. It’s just not a good idea. You don’t want to even be in the presence/neighborhood/society of such families. So take a look at the declining (6% and falling?) white percentage of LA Unified and say: Wonder why they don’t want to go to those schools??

    A good school can control who is enrolled. Even a public school. It is easy to discourage or eliminate undesirable students, it’s called “standards”. Starting with standard dress, then performance standards, then deportment standards, the list goes on. Fail to meet them and you are flunked out, transferred out, and encouraged to drop out.

    Piedmont High for example?

    Bad Students should never be allowed in good schools. That’s a motto OUSD might try. OUSD needs good schools, they have a large enough student body to set a few up.

  • Nextset

    That language may sound harsh to some but I have to make my point. I could talk about feral whites but this isn’t Bakersfield. OUSD (and the other urban public school districts like Richmond and Los Angeles) doesn’t provide schools of the quality of Piedmont only because they don’t want to. They have the physical plants and the students. OUSD has no intention of creating “good” schools that any poor black child could apply for. Based on where they live they must take what is set out, one size fits all. Then they run the black students collectively into the prisons and chronic unemployment, the males, for example.

    When my relatives were teaching in black public schools in the first 60+ years of the 20th Century they produced functional employed people, and plenty of people who did well in civil service and the professions. They were considered rather tryannical but they appear to have been loved from the comments some of their graduates made at their funerals. We know you can have a segregated school, black, mexican, asian, anything… and do better than OUSD’s scores and performance rates.

    This doesn’t have to be this way. OUSD could become more aggressive in sorting students into tracked campuses based on performance. This is what the Charters are effectively doing.

  • Hot R

    We will look back on these times as “the good old days” as nothing will ever be the same. But let’s just say the teachers unions are broken allowing the principals to hire anyone they want…

    Unions were started because teachers were being fired for getting married, getting pregnant, teaching evolution, being a pinko/communist, being a homosexual, voicing their first amendment rights and because male dominated educational establishments would not pay the largely female teachers a decent wage.

    Without these protections, teachers are screwed. They will not be paid for performance, only as little as a District can get away with. I mean what’s the incentive to do otherwise?

    At least now there will be no more faux concern about “closing the achievement gap” that tired phrase that serves as a substitute for racism and failure. Larger classes, tired teachers, a balkanized educational system of haves and have-nots, and an even more poorly educated worker class.

    Let’s look a little closer to home for the blame. African-Americans and liberals long ago got control of the OUSD and the teacher’s union and used it as their personal cash cow, raping and pillaging the treasury until it was no more while ignoring the needs of their students. Janitors unions are simply an excuse to steal. Parents keep electing incompetents to the school board, city council and mayor’s office. OUSD was a place where “everyone” had a relative or a friend who could get them a job. How sad for my city.

    The solution? Build on what works. American Indian School is the model for the district.

  • Sue

    If we’re looking for *one* model for the district, I’d suggest building on the ASIP programs. It’s hard to argue that anything is more successful. Last year, Skyline high graduated five ASIP students, and all five were admitted to colleges and are still attending. This year, Skyline’s ASIP program had three more graduates, and all three have been accepted to college starting this autumn.

    No ASIP student has been removed from the ASIP program by the school district, although I know of one student whose parents transferred to private school a couple of years ago – due to failings with the general ed staff and school administration, not due to the ASIP program’s staff.

    Of course I don’t think *one* model is the answer. I think we need multiple programs, because one size doesn’t fit all. But if we’re only going to pick one, then a program that gets this kind of results with students with autism-spectrum disorders, ought to produce even better results with neuro-typical (“normal”) students.