Persistent CA education gaps fuels conflict

School classroomCaught amid shifting standards, court challenges and retrenching combatants on both sides of social and political divides, California’s education system has found itself burdened by persistent gaps in student and teacher performance — a state of affairs fueling the very conflicts that make reform so difficult.

On the heels of the reversal of the years-old Vergara decision, which had imperiled the Golden State’s protective teacher tenure standards in the name of civil rights, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco added to the controversy by ruling against plaintiffs claiming a right to a quality education. The divided court held “that California’s anemic level of school funding does not violate students’ constitutional right to an education of ‘some quality’ because no such right exists,” as the San Francisco Chronicle reported

The 2-1 decision “upheld a judge’s dismissal of a suit filed by some of the state’s major participants in public education — school boards and administrators, the California Teachers Association and State PTA, and nine school districts, including San Francisco and Alameda,” the paper added. “The plaintiffs argued that a state that trails nearly every other state in per-pupil spending, staffing and student achievement violates California’s 1879 constitutional guarantee of a school system that encourages ‘the promotion of intellectual … improvement.'”

Wrestling with rights

For now, the decision puts California students and teachers in a precarious, and possibly untenable, position. On the one hand, the current Vergara ruling has denied that students have a right to an education that trumps teachers unions’ interests in protecting failing teachers.

“The appeals court suggested that any fallout from failures to oust bad teachers should be blamed on local school administrators, not the California laws that provide the framework for the system as a whole,” as the San Jose Mercury News recalled.

On the other hand, the new District Court ruling has denied that students — this time backed by unions — have a right to an education that meets some qualitative standard. In the wake of the shift toward implementing Common Core, the state’s educational bureaucracy has labored to impose and meet new quantitative educational standards. At the same time, activists have pushed for California’s educational system to expand and centralize even further, despite its current dysfunction and uncertainty.

A high-powered commission convened by Common Sense Media, a non-profit childhood advocacy group, recently urged “that all 4-year-olds in California have access to transitional kindergarten (a public school-based preschool program) or other high-quality preschool,” as Education Week noted. “All children 3 and younger should also have access to high-quality care regardless of their ability to pay, the commission’s report states.” Gov. Jerry Brown has doggedly negotiated against his own party in Sacramento to block the big budget allocations that such a new statewide pre-K regime would require.

Language changes

Complicating the picture yet further, a coalition of activists have placed the so-called Multilingual Education Act on the ballot this November. Amid persistent concerns that children in immigrant families can only be integrated fully into California society if they are educated early into English fluency, the ballot initiative would “substantially revise Prop. 227,” the 1998 Ron Unz-led measure that mandated English-language public school education, according to PBS. Part of the raft of new changes to the state’s Smarter Balanced testing regime, implemented in accordance with Common Core, saw officials embrace a more lenient attitude toward multilingual education.

“This year the Smarter Balanced test will allow students to control the volume and pitch on the computer program that reads a question to a student and that reads glossary words related to questions on the test. The test will also now provide Spanish language glossaries to help students who have a disability and who are classified as English Learners,” Southern California Public Radio reported. In March, Unz declared his candidacy to replace outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in order to rescue Prop. 227. “The primary factor behind this sudden decision on my part was the current effort by the California Democrats and their (totally worthless) Republican allies to repeal my 1998 Prop. 227 ‘English for the Children’ initiative,” he declared in a statement.

19 comments

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  1. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 22 April, 2016, 05:55

    “The divided court held “that California’s anemic level of school funding does not violate students’ constitutional right to an education of ‘some quality’ because no such right exists,” as the San Francisco Chronicle reported”

    41 years of case law disagrees with these three Judges. The Supreme Court of the United States as well as the Supreme Court of California recognizes that all students have a fundamental right to a quality education. “Equal Opportunity to Achieve a Quality Education” is defined by the courts [Serrano v. Priest II (1976) 18 Cal. 3d 748] to be “…opportunity to obtain high quality staff, program expansion and variety, beneficial teacher- pupil ratios and class sizes, modern equipment and materials, and high-quality buildings.” In CA we have a legislature and a legal system that is owned by public employee unions which explains the absurd ruling by these judges. And shame on an attorney General that spend tax payer money to defend Union positions.

    Reply this comment
  2. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 22 April, 2016, 06:01

    While it has been true in the past that judges have been reluctant to define what sufficient funding for a quality education is- I am confident that judges not bought and paid for by CA Unions (Federal Court Judges) will have no trouble defining what “inadequate” funding is. The state’s new education funding law limits per pupil funding to 2007-08 levels + inflation by 2021. In 2007-08 State revenues were $103 billion today they exceed $125 billion. The State is intentionally withholding revenue from the State’s #1 Constitutionally mandated spending priority – the CA Public Education System; and is using money that should go to the education of our children to new programs and entitlements that are not constitutionally mandated.

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  3. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 22 April, 2016, 06:05

    In Dec 2006 the State of CA commissioned a study to determine the actual cost to educate a student in CA and the cost in 2007-08:

    “Efficiency And Adequacy in California School Finance: A Professional Judgement Approach To Determine The Cost To Adequately Educate A Student”. Source: https://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/19-AIR-PJP-Report(3-07).pdf at page xii

    Results of that study (2007-08) concluded that per pupil costs with special needs weightings were found to be:

    Average: $11,094 to $12,365
    Urban: $11,508 to $12,718
    Suburban: $10,726 to $12,077
    Towns: $ 8,932 to $ 9,896
    Rural: $10,615 to $11,881

    So the State of CA knows that a student can not be educated for less than $8,932 per pupil.

    Reply this comment
  4. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 22 April, 2016, 06:14

    The State of CA set the “Base Funding Grant” at $6,500 intentionally underfunding every District that has a low percentage of students that are ELL, receiving free and reduced lunch and/or are in Foster Care.

    So in actuality the State’s new education funding formula was never meant to provide even a basic education to all students. Instead the State of CA is using the LCFF to promote a political agenda of redistributing wealth. Such invidious discrimination violates the civil rights of every student who happens to live in a district with a low percentage of students who are ELL, receiving free and reduced lunch and/or are in Foster Care and does so simply because of where a student happens to live and irrespective of an individual students wealth, race or ethnicity.

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  5. Ronald
    Ronald 22 April, 2016, 06:23

    “Tenure” for teachers is blatantly discriminatory as it excludes tenured job protection for other occupations.

    Performance from TENURED teachers is irrelevant for their guaranteed jobs! Tenured teachers are NOT required to teach! In a non-competitive environment, tenure is a direct reflection on low student performance scores as ill qualified teachers are protected from being fired. Tenure protects those in their careers from the competition young workers would generate.

    The unintended consequences of tenure are that students are often shuffled from one grade to the next on the basis of attendance, even if they do not know the material.

    The battle is on: Tenured teachers’ job protection along with no accountability for their performance vs. the students’ need to learn from teachers with no accountability to actually teach.

    In a “real” business environment, only the performers survive. MEDICAL: Can you expect quality service from individuals with protected jobs and complacency to stay abreast of the latest technologies and procedures? AIRLINES: Would you travel with pilots protected with tenure? SPORTS: Can you imagine tenured athletes with guaranteed jobs having the motivation to be competitive against athletes fighting for their jobs? CONSTRUCTION: Can you expect quality work and adherence to any schedule with a complacent worker tenured with job protections?

    If tenure is allowed to continue, an even playing field would provide tenure opportunities for heart surgeons, airline pilots, athletes, and construction workers, etc., so that they too have guaranteed jobs with no accountability for performance and protect them from the competition from other and possibly more qualified workers.

    Reply this comment
  6. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 22 April, 2016, 06:38

    So in closing – here is what “inadequate” funding looks like-

    My District will have had flat funding of around $7,500 for 14 years by 2021. We have average class sizes of 36 kids (32 in pre k and K) our facilities have not been maintained, we have cut over $152 million from our budget and we have no honors classes, no art, music or science unless parents can fundraise. The continued lack of adequate funding has resulted in a notable decline in the academic performance of students across all demographics.

    We are closing the gap by making everyone perform equally poor in core academic subjects.

    Every student in my district is being denied their constitutional right to sufficient funding to provide students with core academic classes that align with minimum State content Standards and Curriculum frameworks. When I questioned some students not receiving art or music because the schools were to poor to fundraise I was told that under local control it is the individual classroom teacher that determines instructional content and instructional time- CA has no minimum standard under local control. see: Slide Presentation to the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees at http://www.slideshare.net/DawnUrbanek/fundraising-for-core-educational-programs and listen to the Board Audio at January 27, 2016 BOT Meeting Agenda Item #5 – Fundraising for Core Educational Programs and Board Meeting Audio at 2:28:0 to 2:47:45
    http://cusd.capousd.org/cusdweb/boardaudio/1-27-16/CUSDBoardMeeting.January.27.2016.mp3

    Reply this comment
  7. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 April, 2016, 09:24

    Dawnie

    Too much pinhead stuff….could make ya head explode…..get over it…..unions run this arena….curtsy and bow….useless and futile….we need gardners and criminal justice apparatus stimulators.

    Apologize for taking up two days of internet space on CWD!

    Reply this comment
  8. dc1
    dc1 22 April, 2016, 10:48

    In a state with by far the highest income taxes in the country, as well as hundreds of billions in unfunded pension and other liabilities, where do you think the record budget is going to? And better yet, where do you think additional funds should come from? This state so badly spends its massive wealth it is criminal…and our kids are the ones who pay. We have plenty of money, but our priorities are all wrong imo.

    Reply this comment
  9. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 22 April, 2016, 12:26

    Stupid eco-freaks want us to leave the oil in the ground and end all reliance on fossil fuels If these jerks realy beleive this poppycock then they should all go live in a cave without fire to cook their veggies and wearing leaves Its too bad their so stark raving stupid these eco-freak idiots

    Reply this comment
  10. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 22 April, 2016, 14:45

    Time to change the direction of the State- California educates 1 in 8 students in the US- when CA fails- the nation fails- so we all need to make a change for our kids-

    Reply this comment
  11. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 April, 2016, 16:23

    Lighten up….the Asians got us covered. They achieve while the other kids play football, video games or do dope.

    Don’t you value equal opportunity and free will? Poor choices are part of life too.

    Doomers created this crummy service economy…..relax…..millions of unskilled workers are needed to keep the economy going.

    Reply this comment
  12. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 22 April, 2016, 21:42

    Funding eh? Riiight.

    Got here on January 5th, 1976. First day of school was January 7th.

    Came from Ohio. Got A’s for the entire year because the schools in Ohio were so much better.

    Explain funding to me again?

    These schools have always been terrible. End of topic already.

    Reply this comment
  13. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 22 April, 2016, 22:16

    We have a corrupt political system in CA that uses our public education system to get increased tax revenue and then never gives it to the kids- if you want proof I have documented everything for one of the “wealthiest” school districts in the US. Our Wealthy , “entitled” kids are performing equal to ELL in math and english. We have closed the gap by making everyone equally stupid.

    Reply this comment
  14. Losbanos1
    Losbanos1 25 April, 2016, 10:18

    After reading all comments on this subject not one of you spoke about the real problem here. The problem is that these schools are just that, they are not education centers, they are government run training centers with one goal and it is not to educate but to social engineer them . Kids are stripped of their religious beliefs , family values, morals , individualism. They are taught sex education in kindergarten , anal sex, homosexuality, and if you do not believe me. LOOK IT UP. The history they are taught are lies, they are told that the government knows better than the parents, not taught their rights under the constitution, bill of rights. They are taught they can not think for their selves , their group must make the decision and when it is time for them to leave these training centers, they are lost. Face it, it has nothing to do with money at all. It has to do with shutting these government run training called school to prison centers down. Take back your power people, take back your children . The states and the federal government has no business in our children’s education , get rid of the unions , common core is a joke and was developed and installed by Bill Gates, socialist. LOOK IT UP. If you continue to leave it the way it is now, you are contributing to your child’s failure in life .

    Reply this comment
  15. Gonzo
    Gonzo 25 April, 2016, 12:24

    Face it illegal immigration is good for teachers unions. They would lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 33% of their jobs. That’s big money. And Losbanos you hit the nail on the head. This whole “group” think is strong in common core. They started CC when my son was in the 8th grade and they have multiple projects where they have to work with other students. My kid is the smart one and there is always a slacker. Guess what slackers grade goes up and my kids goes down! Just like technocrats imagined when dreaming this up. If I could afford it my kids would be in private school asap. And I live in what is considered to be one of the best school districts in SoCal.

    Reply this comment
  16. Losbanos1
    Losbanos1 25 April, 2016, 14:29

    The problem with that is, there NO good schools in America any more. They are all run by liberal, socialist and New World Order bureaucrats. Now you hear from the left that it takes a village to raise a child or children belong to all of us. People better had better investigate Common Core a little deeper. There is a wonderful you tube video every parent should watch. The Case Against Common Core , by Dr. Duke Pesta . You will never feel the same about school again after watching it.

    Reply this comment
  17. Queeg
    Queeg 25 April, 2016, 16:59

    Comrade Banos

    How do you do square roots and five place long devision with Common Core?

    Hardly….

    Reply this comment
  18. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 25 April, 2016, 18:01

    I think this election is revealing a lot- even the educational elites are shocked by Bernie Sanders – If America were to elect a true socialist it would reveal the work that they have done.

    Reply this comment

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