The California State Public Education System: Can it live up to current demands?” All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.” -Aristotle- It has been said many times that children are our future. That is a scary thought considering our lack of investment as a people in that future, for without a solid base of education now the bright future we hope for may never come to fruition. This Paper will look at the current state of the Public Education System of the Sate of California. It will focus on the breakdown of the current system looking specifically at the following issues: Lack of Funding for the System, Lack of Qualified Teaching Personnel, and issues caused by Diversity in the Educational System. Through the use of primary and secondary research tools we will analyze the current state of the system and look at possible remedies to said issues. Lack of Funding According to the California ‘s Statistics overall spending for education over the last five years have shown an upward trend in spending for schools.
Over the last five years spending for education has gone up by 28% (California Department of Education). It went from an average expenditure per student of $4570. 00 to $6360. 00 (California Department of Education). Though over the last five years spending has headed in the right direction it has not done so in a fast enough manner. The average rate of growth for the educational budget has been 8.
6% (California Department of Education) a year over the last five years. This is barely above the rate of growth of enrollment of 6% (California Department of Education). We are not moving forward in fact it would seem like we are treading water. With the upcoming cuts in educational spending for the 2003-2004 school year we will actually be losing ground. Though average expenditure per student has gone up it still is not in line with other states. As stated above the average expenditure per student is $6360.
00 per year according to the most recent statistics released by the California Department of Education. To put it in perspective the top three states as far as expenditures per student are New Jersey at $10, 337. 00 per student, District of Columbia at $10, 107. 00 per student, and New York at $9, 846. 00 per student (National Center for Education Statistics). This level of expenditure is coming from three states whose combined GDP does not even come close to that of California, which if it were to separate from the United States would form the fifth largest economy in the world (Nystrom Desk Atlas).
Our Public School System is still plagued by lack of supplies and equipment as evidenced in our surveys where 100% of respondents stated that they felt supplies were below minimum standards to create an effective learning environment. We were given examples of students having to share textbooks. Textbooks being outdated with some being from the late 80’s, not a big deal for math texts but there has been a huge increase in knowledge in Science and a significant change in the geography and history of our world which would make large sections of these older texts obsolete. Another large complaint is the lack of proper facilities. Most schools being aged and in need of serious repairs. Lack of Qualified Teachers We would all like to think that schools are going to educate every child and expect them to bring every child to high standards of performance.
Until fairly recently it was a permissible practice to reserve the most qualified teachers for those schools serving high-achieving, affluent, college-bound students who were believed to hold the greatest promise of success. Holding school districts accountable for improving the performance of all schools and all students might well require that resources, both human and financial, be allocated according to greatest need (ca. gov). This notion presents a challenge to public education. My concern would be whether or not school superintendents and other representatives work together to design fair, effective strategies to ensure that the students with the greatest needs are assigned well-qualified teachers. The state of California should analyze the enormous complexity of this issue, including the impact of teacher quality on student achievement, the evidence that teachers regularly migrate out of low-performing schools, and the potential solution that lies in offering incentives to well-qualified teachers who commit to work in struggling schools (ca.
gov). There has been evidence that suggests that the poorest children face the greatest educational challenges. Students who attend schools with poverty have unequal opportunities to develop literacy and other academic skills, which is very similar to our criminal justice system where the less fortunate receive substandard assistance and rulings from the bench (ca. gov).
High-poverty schools suffer from fewer resources, greater teacher and administrator shortages, fewer applications for vacancies, higher absenteeism among teachers and staff, and higher rates of teacher and administrator turnover. For example, the likelihood is greater that children will have difficulty learning to read if they are poor, non-white, or non-native speakers of English. In 2000, only 16 percent of Hispanic fourth-graders and only 12 percent of blacks scored at or above proficient levels of achievement in reading, compared to 40 percent of whites (ca. gov).
At the end of a decade of unprecedented efforts nationwide to improve public schools, roughly six out of every 10 poor and minority students still failed to reach even the basic level in reading achievement. Strategies have been proposed to close this achievement gap: smaller classes, smaller schools, standards-based reform, whole-school reform, lengthening the school day, lengthening the school year, before- and after-school programs, charter schools, and parental involvement. The most drastic strategies include privatization of public school systems, mayoral and state takeovers, and school reconstitution (ca. gov). None of these strategies is likely to work without highly qualified teachers and strong, supportive school districts that can create good working conditions that will attract and retain them. I think it will be essential to create incentives that attract well-qualified teachers to select and remain in the schools that serve students with the greatest needs.
There should be legislation to increase teacher pay, offer various monetary incentives to lure more teachers to California and help subsidize the cost of living in the state. Obtaining the correct balance of monetary and non-monetary incentives will continue to be a challenge for California. However, to ensure that the balance of incentives will work as intended and will appeal to teachers in different areas, it will be important to allow teachers a say in developing local compensation policies and procedures. But if solutions are not developed quickly, poor students will continue to be under served and public education will continue to press for alternatives, such as privatization and vouchers, to solve the persistent problem of staffing low-performing schools (ca. gov). The current administration under President Bush has proposed spending $3.
7 billion over five years on a federal income tax credit to enable parents to withdraw their children from low-performing public schools (cnn. com). Rather than using the money to improve these schools by increasing teacher compensation and improving working conditions so that teachers will not want to leave, the proposal will allow parents to claim up to $2, 500 per year toward the costs of tuition, fees, and transportation so that they can remove their children from public schools identified as failing under new federal guidelines (cnn. com).
Cultural Diversity If America is becoming a truly multi-cultural society, the concept of a “Standardized American Education System” becomes more and more dangerous. Quality of education may be affected by a standardized education system. California the most populous state in the U. S. does not have a single dominant culture, but instead has formed a vast pacific collage, a mix of Hispanic and Asian cultures linked through the most modern communication technologies. But there is significant indication that the California education system has not taken that into account and therefore is not acting as efficiently as it should to educate its minorities.
Based on 1990-00 enrollment figures given by the California Department of Education, California schools are some of the most culturally diverse in the nation, with enrollment as follows: Hispanic students comprise 42. 2% of the school population. Caucasian students make up 34. 8%, Asian and Pacific Islanders 8. 8%, African American 8. 3%, and American Indian 0.
9%. In California’s 2001 language census, 1. 56 million students were identified as English learners (limited English proficient), which make up approximately 35 percent of the English learners reported in the U. S. in 1990-2000 (California Department of Education). Fluent-English proficient students with a native language other than English, make up 39.
6 percent of the state’s students numbering 878, 139 students. This student population is concentrated in the early elementary grades, with 33% of students being second-generation or new immigrant children who are learning English as a second English enrolled in kindergarten through Grade 3 (California Department of Education). But when the Proposition 227 (P-227), placed severe restrictions on bilingual education programs implemented under federal and state laws since the 1974 Lau v. Nichols U. S Supreme Court ruling delineating the rights of language minority students (LMS). The debate over the best way to educate LMS has become increasingly contentious, as their numbers have grown rapidly over the past decade.
Sponsors of P-227 rallied support for eliminating bilingual programs among voters concerned about its effectiveness, citing low annual rates of reclassification of students as fluent English speakers, low academic achievement, and high drop-out rates among Hispanic students. More fundamentally, critics of bilingual education challenged the tenets of multicultural education and education reforms focused on accommodation of cultural and linguistic diversity. They claimed that bilingual education impedes the process of assimilation of immigrant populations by segregating LMS in public schools to maintain their language and culture. To implement the mandated structured English immersion (SEI) model, proponents of p-227 called for retaining of bilingual teachers and reform of teacher education to focus on methods of teaching English for rapid acquisition of the language, leading to access to the regular school curriculum (G ersten, 1999; Porter, 1999-2000; Tuch man, 2000).
Passage of the anti-bilingual education initiative brought about a dramatic shift in educational policy that has far reaching implications for teacher preparation in California. Prior to passage of p-227, only 30% of students classified as LEP were enrolled in bilingual education programs in which they received instruction in their primary language. In 1999, after 1 year of implementation of the new law, only 12% of L 2 students were enrolled in bilingual education (California Department of Education, 1999). P-227 mandated a 1-year English immersion program in which all LEP students would require “a good working knowledge of English” before moving into mainstream classrooms. This model of language minority education was sharply criticized as theoretically unsound and inadequate in meeting the needs of the vast majority of LMS (Kr ashen, 1999; McQuillan, 2000). In 1992, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (C CTC) established a new system for preparing teachers for linguistically and culturally diverse students populations to respond to changing demographics (Walton & Carlson, 1997).
Programs to prepare teachers for schools in a diverse society were founded on principles of multicultural education and culturally responsive teaching (Hollins, 1999; Lads on-Billings, 1994; Nieto, 1999). The knowledge base for these cross-cultural teaching programs was also grounded in the growing body of research on effective schooling practices for LMS (August & Hakuba, 1997). It was widely accepted that these teacher preparation programs had proven their effective over almost a decade of implementation, and they were no longer considered experimental. The California electorate’s policy preference for educating LMS as expressed through P-227 posed a dilemma for teacher educators expected to prepare teachers for new professional challenges. A report of SEI and bilingual program implementation attributed high levels of inconsistent and piecemeal instruction for L 2 learners to the political overtones of the law’s mandate and the lack of sufficient numbers of well-qualified teachers (Gander a et al.
, 2000). The report stated that the “top-down” policy did not take account the level of skill and expertise of the existing teaching force and that program mandates overrode teachers’ opinions about the best way to teach L 2 learners (p. 29). Many school districts continued their bilingual programs granting waivers to parents as allowed under the new law. In other districts, some schools converted to charter school status to maintain previously established bilingual programs or to create new dual immersion programs (Barrett, 1999; Gorman, 1999; Magee, 1999) It is apparent that the California Legislature, School Officials, and Teachers’ Unions must come to terms with what it will take to attract and retain qualified teachers in the most challenging schools. When weighed against the costs of lost educational opportunities, federal guidelines, and the hefty price of teacher attrition, financial incentives to attract and retain teachers in the nation’s most challenging classrooms are an option well worth pursuing.
For many of our children in hard-to-staff schools, a highly qualified teacher can be a life-altering experience for them through our leaders investment. The question is not whether we can afford to pay the price. The question is whether we can afford not to. Survey Questions 1. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being very poor and 10 being excellent) how would you rate the current state of the Public Education System in California? Educational Spending 2.
With a 2000-2001 statewide average of $52480. 00 per year, do you think teachers are earning appropriate wages for their position? 3. Do you feel that the level of supplies (i. e. Text Books, Library Resources, Instructional Aides, Lab Equipment, etc. ) is at an adequate level to promote a good learning environment? Issues in Diversity 4.
Have you ever felt discriminated against by teachers or students because of you race, religion, or color? 5. Have you ever felt alienated due to a lack of understanding, on the part of others, about your culture? 6. Do you think that incorporating education about different cultures in America into the curriculum would motivate students of those cultural backgrounds to be more involved in the learning process? 7. Do you think that a diversified staff would be better equipped to deal with issues created by the culturally diverse populations in California’s Schools? Qualifications of Staff 8. In your opinion, should teachers be assigned a set limit of students in order to be held more accountable for results? 9.
In your opinion, should teachers have to pass a National Standardized Test governed by Congress/Government? 10. Do you think that a Cost of Living Allowance would attract qualified teachers to the Bay Area? Demographics 11. Gender: Male Female 12. Age: 18-20 21-25 26-30 31-35 36-40 41-45 46-50 50 and Above 13.
Ethnicity: Works Cited California Department of Education “Educational Demographics Office Public School Summary Statistics 1997-2001.” 19 May 2003. Keeper Mora, Jill. ‘Staying the Course in Times of Change.’ JOURNAL OF TEACHER EDUCATION, Nov 2000 v 51 i 5 p 345 National Center for Educational Statistics “NAEP State Profile California.” 19 May 2003. National Center for Educational Statistics “NAEP State Profile District of Columbia.” 19 May 2003.
National Center for Educational Statistics “NAEP State Profile New Jersey.” 19 May 2003. National Center for Educational Statistics “NAEP State Profile New York.” 19 May 2003.