The sad reason Steinberg’s right about significance of his education bill

Sept. 28, 2012

By Chris Reed

Some self-serving bragging by one of California’s most powerful politicians is more illuminating than he may think. This is from John Fensterwald’s story on

Senate Bill 1458, which will shift California’s chief measure of a high school’s performance, from a near exclusive reliance on state test scores to a broader gauge of student accomplishment and preparation for college and the world of work, is now law.

After Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill Wednesday, its sponsor, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, predicted in a press release that the bill ‘will prove to be one of the most significant education reform bills of the decade.’

Starting in 2016, test results of the California Standards Tests will comprise no more than 60 percent of a high school’s Academic Performance Index, or API, the three-digit score that, next to a school’s mascot, has become its identity. …[The bill] makes clear that those measures should reflect success in preparing students for higher education and the workplace. Steinberg has said these elements might include high school and middle school graduation and dropout rates, or factors such as the proportion of students who pass Advanced Placement exams, are eligible for a four-year state university (complete the A-G course requirements), graduate without need for college remediation in English and math, or have completed a Partnership Academy program in a career pathway and qualified for college credit in that area.”

I think Steinberg is right that this ho-hum measure will be “one of the most significant education reform bills of the decade” because it has no effect on teachers and their automatic pay raises. Those are the only sorts of reform bills the CTA will allow the Legislature to pass.

Increasingly, even among Democrats, this sort of subservience to teachers unions is an outlier. From the Obama administration to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, finally there is a dawning of the understanding that a school system built on automatic raises for most teachers, good or bad, is crazy.

But in Sacramento, that’s equivalent to hate speech. So Steinberg is right. When it comes to education reform, his API change bill is as good as it is likely to get.

How is it possible that George Skelton, Michael Hiltzik, Dan Morain, etc., etc., etc., so rarely notice that the CTA isn’t the 800-pound gorilla in the room, it’s the 50-ton Godzilla in the room?

In most of America, education reform efforts are alive and somewhat well and focusing on improving teacher accountability.

But here in California, where is the action? Partly on trivia like Steinberg’s bill. But just as much on attempts to roll back reforms, such as the current push to drop the requirement that student performance be part of teacher evaluations. The word for this is sick.

Hey, George! George! George Skelton! Hey, Mikey! Yo, Dan M.!

Can you share with us how this has anything to do with you and your fellow liberals’ devotion to social justice?

Would you mind, just once, pointing out the gap between what California Dems say they are about and what they use their power for?

Pretty please?


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