California education woes

A new report from UCLA shows significant problems with California’s education system.

The report, issued by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access (IDEA) and the University of California All-Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity (UC ACCORD), finds that systematic inadequacies and inequalities in the public education system leave California students from all backgrounds unable to compete with their counterparts in most other parts of the country.

Also From the report:

The research also reveals a “restricted flow” through the “mathematics pipeline.” The progress of California students through the middle school and high school math curriculum is hampered by students’ lack of access to small class size, rigorous coursework and well-trained teachers, according to the report. This restricted flow makes the No Child Left Behind Act goal of universal proficiency in math by 2014 nearly impossible to reach for most California schools.

Finally, the report reveals worse educational outcomes for California’s class of 2006 than for previous classes. The consequences of poor learning conditions were greater for young people in the class of 2006 because they were the first to face the California High School Exit Exam’s “diploma penalty.” California graduated a smaller proportion of its ninth-grade cohort in 2006 than in any year since 1997.

I also heard about this report on NPR during the drive home. One of the coauthors stated that fewer kids are also going on to colleges after high school, in spite of higher expectations from parents.

This is bad news, particularly in the face of budget cuts for education that recently passed (nearly 10 billion dollars of cuts for education).

Altogether, this does not bode well for the future of California. Given our tendency here in California to be trend setters, it probably doesn’t bode well for the rest of the country either. We need a well educated populace to further drive progress and the economy and to maintain a relatively healthy democracy. Of course, throwing money at problems doesn’t automatically fix them. In the same vein, one can look for creative solutions that require less money.

We need to be thinking about what form those solutions may take. Certainly, as Obama constantly stresses, parental involvement needs to play a significant factor. In addition, perhaps a volunteer tutoring program could also be something many of us could do. There are also mentoring programs in which one can be involved. We should also think of ways in which we can show kids that math and science are relevant to their lives and be able to convey some of the excitement one can get by being able to use them to solve other problems. To tie the various subjects together to show how they can solve larger problems.

Of course, we now have this problem to solve about fixing education. Let’s see some ideas flowing.

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