CA school districts treat troubled kids like cash cows

10713098-its-all-about-the-kidsThe idea that the people running public schools are “all about the kids” is one of the great canards in California life. Among the many examples that show this is ridiculous:

— Absurdly easy, undemanding tenure policies that allow horrible teachers to spend a lifetime dumbing down their students.

— Budget policies that divert nearly all funds to employee compensation because of automatic “step” and “column” raises.

— Borrowing practices that saddle future generations with the cost of paying for current salaries and basic school supplies.

Go study at home, without supervision — you’ll excel

But one specific example of adults-always-first school policies has always especially galled me: the callous way that districts deal with troubled students, which guarantees the districts will keep getting funding based on “average daily attendance” formulas but does nothing to help the troubled students get on the right track. Over the weekend, an excellent Center for Public Integrity piece put the spotlight on this assault on social justice:

“LOST HILLS – On a blistering May day in the Central Valley, most other 13-year-olds were in school. But Erick Araujo was under orders from his mother to stay inside with a U.S. history textbook.

“The seventh-grader actually didn’t have much to do. Over four days, his only task was to read three chapters and answer, briefly, a few questions per chapter.

“‘Pretty easy,’ the boy with braces shrugged, leafing through pages.

“He had no math. No English. No science. No other books to engage his love of history.”

“This could be Erick’s schooling until he’s halfway through eighth grade in early 2014.”

It gets worse. Erick’s not the exception. He’s the norm. School districts want the dues (ADA), not the hassles.

” … in February, Erick was expelled for a year from Lost Hills’ A.M. Thomas Middle School and told to enroll at a community school for kids with discipline problems that is run by Kern County.

“That school is 38 miles away – so far away that staff there suggested Erick’s mom put him on independent study at home. She would only drive him to the North Kern Community School in Delano on Mondays, so he could comply with the county’s required minimum of 4½ hours a week with a teacher.

“For Erick’s farmworker mom, Nereida Vasquez, this seems a strange way for her son to fulfill his ‘rehabilitation plan.’ She feels educators have cast Erick adrift.

“‘He’s already told me that he should just drop out and go to work in the fields,’ Vasquez said.

“Youth advocates say Erick’s situation typifies a troubling pattern of authorities removing students from regular school and dispatching them to alternative campuses, where plans sometimes seem disturbingly casual – including long stretches of stay-at-home independent study. ….”

Serious question: How does Tom Torlakson sleep at night?

“California’s Department of Education doesn’t track students like Erick after – and if – they return to home schools, so it’s hard to measure how they fare. Nor does the state require that county-run schools report how many students are put on independent study programs.

“But the state does provide one rough estimate suggesting room for improvement.

“During the 2011-2012 school year, more than one-third of students at more than 75 county-run schools statewide dropped out. These schools serve about 43,000 pupils a year. Most have done poorly in core subjects.

“That’s why advocates are confounded by plans that put the onus on many of these same kids to self-educate, sometimes with only a few hours of class time a week.”

Congratulations, Tom Torlakson. Congratulations, Jerry Brown. Congratulations, Democrats in the Legislature. Congratulations, the California Teachers Association. Congratulations, the California Federation of Teachers.

The struggling schoolkids of the Golden State are lucky to have you.

Actually, they could hardly do worse.







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  1. stolson
    stolson 22 July, 2013, 08:19

    RACE TO THE BOTTOM. Arne Duncan head of Education is a nutter. His philosophy dribbles down–some states try to avoid him. CA schooling is not up to par in many areas. Consider the reasons–there are many including: who becomes a teacher, classroom attendance, parent participation, money and the CA teacher assoc., unions not firing bad teachers, pensions and raises top concerns, and the attitude towards education by some groups. Since there are sociological changes in the state, desire for better education is not increasing. Private and/or charter schools are in vogue.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 July, 2013, 08:39

    Sorry article….CWD posters are California public school partially educated….how else can you explain such shallow social development and stunted critical thinking..

    There gotta be some volunteer counselers willing to help these hapless sots!

    Reply this comment

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