Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Failing Kids, Failing Schools, Failing Governor

The state motto of California is "EUREKA", Greek for "I have found it!". California is said to be the "Golden State". California is much different than many other states. While many states are losing population (according to the US Census), California has shown growth. Why? The lure of California as the "Golden State". In the year 1900, not that many people lived in California. It was largely a rural state, very agricultural and hosted two 'frontier' places for immigrants/emigrants to establish a new life; the Owens Valley and the Imperial Valley. It was not until after WWII that California's population truly boomed. Thousands had come to California because of WWII, either as members of the US military or for the wartime industry that developed. Many of those who came here liked it, especially the weather. They married and began having children. Consequently, cities grew. Automobile culture developed. And, what became a world class system of education developed with California's public schools and universities. But then something happened.
In the 1970's, Proposition 13 dramatically altered the tax structure of California. And, the face of California was changing. The Boat People arrived. The past 25 years have seen a great influx of Hispanic immigrants. Unfortunately, the educational infrastructure did not change much. Not many new schools were built. A new level of bureaucracy was spawned; Bilingual Education. In theory, this was a good thing. But in reality, it failed. That failure was due in part to greed, political and cultural factors. Most students labeled as being in need of 'bilingual education' in fact, only received a monolingual education.....en Espanol. Many of them never 'graduated' from the bilingual program and into mainstream classes. Many of these "bilingual" students never graduated from high school. To attack Bilingual Education was akin to an attack upon their "culture".

A recent Harvard University study declared some 'startling' new figures for California in regard to the real dropout rate. Not surprising to many classroom teachers was the fact that the largest percentage of drop outs were Hispanic and African-American students. In a recent LA Times article about the LA Unified School District, it seems that many of these students drop out soon after entering high school. Why? They are sent to high school weather or not they are academically prepared for high school or not (social promotion) They fail classes because there is not a student desk/seat for them in their assigned classes. They fail classes because they never receive a textbook for their assigned classes. They fail classes because they cite a problem in getting help with their school work from their 'non-English speaking' parent(s). They fail classes because they move and cannot get to school. They drop out because they need to work to help provide money for their family. They drop out because they are assigned classes such as "service class" in which students organize textbooks, decorate the school for holidays or just sit around and do nothing." They drop out because their counselors place them in Junior ROTC classes instead of English classes. They fail because they do not have qualified teachers; many cite that they have a series of one substitute teacher after another for classes. They are herded into huge schools (LAUSD's Garfield H.S. has over 5000 students enrolled ! )

IS this typical? I doubt it. But, read Mr. Babylon's stories about the high school where he teaches in NYC. Maybe these problems get amplified due to the large number of kids in schools in LA and NYC. BUT, IMO, the bottom line is, a failure of leadership. A failure to build the new schools that are needed to help educate this growing number of students. A failure to plan for the future. A failure of parents to learn about the system, to demand excellence in education for their children and to hold politicians and school administrators accountable. A failure of special interest groups to strive to do what is BEST for the kids and not strive to perpetuate their bureaucracy and self interests (such as Bilingual Education, State Teacher's Unions). A failure to make teaching an attractive career option for our young people. A failure of the educational system and government to support beginning teachers. A failure of the recent governors of California to shelve what is politically correct and do what is right. A failure by Gov. S. and the corrupt California Legislature to address this problem. Instead, Gov. S. is choosing to attack the teachers by threatening their retirement, their paycheck and wishing to place their job security in the hands of those who may be less than professional or competent when dealing with teachers. It is the failure of our National Government to get its pork-barrel nose out of education and leave it up to the States to decide what is best for the education of their students. There is lots of failure around. Why are teachers always to first to be blamed for all of this?

Thanks for reading my blog. As always, I welcome your comments !