Governor Brown Says He Will Fight For Education

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Jerry-BrownPolling Shows Public Concerned About Impact of Further Budget Cuts on Education –

Most Californians are very concerned that the state’s budget deficit will result in cuts to public schools, the area of the budget they most want to protect, according to a statewide survey released earlier this week by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

According to the poll, strong majorities of Californians (68%), likely voters (65%), and public school parents (74%) say the quality of K–12 education will suffer if cuts are made.

Speaking to several thousand PTA members, Governor Jerry Brown made a vow that he would fight to protect public education funding, even as he has been unable to reach a deal to get at least four Republican legislators’ support on a plan to close the more than fifteen billion dollar deficit.

Governor Brown told the mostly friendly audience that he was their ally in the battle to protect education funding in the upheaval.

“It’s going to have to be the voice of the parents and teachers and yes, even the school students themselves, to awaken the conscience of California to our true path forward, which is to invest in the future and not steal from it,” the Governor said. “That’s really what’s at stake here.”

He argued that a ballot measure on the tax renewals was critical to the state future.

“It’s a choice that the people have a right to make. You can’t tell the people of California, ‘Shut up, we don’t want to hear from you,’ ” he said.

Governor Brown said that he would consider all alternatives, so long as it would get both sides talking again.

“I think that’s all a part of the discussion. I’m open to anything,” he said. “I put no preconditions to meeting with the Republican lawmakers. Anything they want, whether it’s pension reform, capping, regulatory form, I’m listening. Even agricultural issues, I’m listening.”

“Some of the Republicans, as recently as the night before last, said, ‘We’re going to get there.’ I’ve been speaking with these Republicans frequently, so within the last 48 hours I heard from a couple of them some very positive — but by no means definitive — comments,” he said.

The PPIC polls found that when Californians are read the major areas of state spending—K–12 public schools, health and human services, higher education, and prisons and corrections—57 percent most want to protect schools.

“Californians’ support for maintaining K–12 spending remains strong. It is a significant factor for the state’s leaders to take into account in any proposals that they put before voters this year,” says Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC. “Residents are worried about the toll that reduced spending is having on the quality of K–12 public education, and public school parents are noticing the impact of state budget cuts on their children’s schools.”

58% of Californians, including 56% of likely voters, believe that it is a good idea to hold a special election this year on the temporary tax and fee increases that Governor Jerry Brown has proposed to prevent additional budget cuts – that represents a small increase from March.

On the other hand, these results do not necessarily translate into support for the specifics of the governor’s plan. Solid majorities oppose increases in the state sales tax (61% all adults, 62% likely voters) or overall state personal income tax (62% all adults, 66% likely voters) to maintain funding for schools—both components of Brown’s proposal.

By contrast, 68% of adults and 62% of likely voters favor raising the top rate of the state income tax paid by the wealthiest Californians to maintain K–12 funding.

The poll also showed that teacher layoffs top the list of the public’s concerns about budget cuts.

According to the poll, when asked how the quality of public schools can be significantly improved, 43% of residents and 47% of likely voters say existing state funds need to be used more wisely. A similar 41% of residents and 42% of likely voters say funds need to be used more wisely and the amount of funding needs to be increased. Just 13% of adults and 9% of likely voters say that increasing state funding alone would significantly improve quality.

The poll also found that residents are most concerned about teacher layoffs (68%), but majorities are very concerned about the other areas as well: a shortened school year (56%), elimination of art and music programs (53%), and increased class sizes (52%).

“If the legislature or voters reject tax increases, K–12 public education—which accounts for about 40 percent of the state budget—would face cuts. Among the options that would provide the most cost savings, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), are eliminating funding for K–3 class-size reduction, ending the state requirement that students be provided with transportation to school, and requiring children to be 5 years old before starting kindergarten. (Plans are underway to move this date up from December 2 to September 1 in the future, but the LAO identified this as a way to save money in 2011-2012.),” the PPIC reported.

“Asked about these ideas,” the report continued, “a strong majority of Californians (77%) say eliminating funding for reducing K–3 class sizes is a bad idea, and 61 percent say the same about ending the transportation requirement. By contrast, 66 percent say changing the kindergarten age requirement is a good idea.”

The question on the minds of people locally is how these numbers will translate into support for Measure A.  While there have been a number of missteps and a few overblown local controversies, it seems that support for education in this community remains strong.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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49 thoughts on “Governor Brown Says He Will Fight For Education”

  1. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “Governor Brown said that he would consider all alternatives, so long as it would get both sides talking again.
    “I think that’s all a part of the discussion. I’m open to anything,” he said. “I put no preconditions to meeting with the Republican lawmakers. Anything they want, whether it’s pension reform, capping, regulatory form, I’m listening. Even agricultural issues, I’m listening.””

    It took Gov. Brown long enough to change his tune about considering all alternatives… and of course the usual scapegoat for his failure to get anywhere are you guessed it – Republicans! Sigh…

    dmg: “On the other hand, these results do not necessarily translate into support for the specifics of the governor’s plan. Solid majorities oppose increases in the state sales tax (61% all adults, 62% likely voters) or overall state personal income tax (62% all adults, 66% likely voters) to maintain funding for schools—both components of Brown’s proposal.
    By contrast, 68% of adults and 62% of likely voters favor raising the top rate of the state income tax paid by the wealthiest Californians to maintain K–12 funding.”

    In other words taxpayers want to maintain K-12 funding even tho there is a severe budget shortfall, so long as they are not the ones taxed more for it. That makes a lot of sense! Exactly how does that work?

    dmg: “The question on the minds of people locally is how these numbers will translate into support for Measure A. While there have been a number of missteps and a few overblown local controversies, it seems that support for education in this community remains strong.”

    But it has to be at least a 67% supermajority strong!

  2. rusty49

    “But it has to be at least a 67% supermajority strong!”

    I still say Measure A is going down. I think the people of Davis are tired of getting nickeled and dimed. This ballot came out at the same time that county taxes were due and I feel people will look at their bill and realize how much they’re already paying for education to the district and say no more. We shall see in about a week.

  3. medwoman

    Rusty49

    And if you get your wish we can look forward to lowered reading levels at grade three, less individual attention to student needs at both the classroom and counseling levels, fewer learning opportunities in ares that many of us consider basic such as music and foreign languages, and the loss of some very fine teachers ( including some whose work I can judge first hand since my son was in their class) as well as other job classifications which directly affect the children. Now, those are results of which we can all be proud.

  4. rusty49

    medwoman

    Or the teachers could’ve accepted more across the board small paycuts and saved jobs just like many in the private sector have had to do. I worked for a company that went bankrupt and in order to save the company we had to take steep cuts, a lot bigger percentage than the teachers were asked to take. I didn’t see any tax measures put out there in order to save our pay or benefits.

  5. Frankly

    [quote]Governor Brown will “work for education”[/quote]
    I guess that means that all the rest of us that do not support increasing taxes are working “against education”.

    Give them (those people) credit for their marketing genius. Emotives sell:

    – Save the kids
    – Protect the kids
    – Support the teachers
    – Save the schools
    – Work for education

    Thinking a little deeper here… isn’t the ultimate purpose of education to prepare young people to have a prosperous life? Not only is our current model of K-12 education doing a crappy job at this, but it seems our governor and the left is hell-bent on reducing the prosperity of those working hard enough to overcome their crappy education, only to redistribute it to fund more crappy education.

    Why isn’t this governor advocating real education reform if he is really motivated to “work for education”? The reason… he is working “for the public employee unions”. Just as many of us expected would happen if he was elected.

  6. medwoman

    Rusty49

    So in other words, today’s students should have less opportunities because your company had financial difficulties and did not receive a government bailout ?

  7. Frankly

    medwoman: I think Rusty was just pointing out that most of us working for a living pull up our boot straps when the economy takes a nosedive. From your perspective we are supposed to pull them up even farther to prevent the teachers from having to do the same.

    The crocodile tears for teachers seemed to be special.

    Last I checked most of them were just working people too.

  8. medwoman

    JB

    An honest inquiry. What, other than your son’s unfortunate experience has led you to the conclusion that our public education is so “crappy”?
    Pardon the anecdotal nature of my comments, but my exclusively public school education was enough to qualify me for medical school ( also at a public school, UCD) and a successful career in one of the most competitive specialties. Most of my colleagues obtained most if not all of their education through the public schools. Hardly a measure of a ” crappy” education unless you share Elaine’s opinion of the medical profession …. I’m smiling Elaine.

  9. Frankly

    medwoman: Did you fit the high-acheiving learner template?

    Despite your answer, I will answer your questions with a point. If you go to Nordstroms and are treated badly, you will likely think of Nordstroms of being a crappy store despite what other customers experience and think.

    Now consider about 40% of the customers are treated badly.

    I think that would make Nordstroms justifieably labeled a crappy store.

    What do you do when you need to purchase something in a crappy store because it is the only store in town?… you help yourself or get outside help.

    If you help yourself or get outside help and create your own positive outcome, that does not make the store somehow not crappy.

  10. rusty49

    When I went to school we had classrooms of 30 to 35 students and I’ll guarantee you I learned more from those teachers than the kids are getting today. I only have a high school education and have one daughter with a bachelors, my other daughter has a masters and teaches high school English. They’re always amazed that I know more math, science and geography than they do, though they do tear me up when it comes to English. That’s because back then the teachers used to teach the core subjects and pound it into you, it didn’t matter to them that they had over 30 students. It always sickens me when they show a map of the world and ask a student where Egypt is and they have no clue. Ask a college kid today to balance a checkbook and I’ll bet over half couldn’t do it. So stop crying about 30 kids per classroom, the teachers did it back then and did a great job and they should be able to do it today too.

  11. Frankly

    medwoman: here is something that explains some of what I am grouchy about: [url]http://educationresearchreport.blogspot.com/2009/11/high-school-survey-of-student.html[/url]

    After you read it, ask yourself why isn’t there much being done about it.

  12. Davis Enophile

    Jeff and medwoman

    My public education experience was pretty uninspiring, and somehow I’ve found myself a homeowner in Davis!

    Medwoman’s experience of becoming successful as a product of her public education could be argument against this notion that somehow the children will be hurt by voting no. Was her public education K-12 experience on parr with that here in Davis? Or was her public education experience pretty uninspiring like mine?

  13. Frankly

    Rusty: Interesting on your point about the number of students. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has been spending millions to test this theory and have pretty much proved it bunk for the later grades. In fact, just the oposite was found to be true… that kids in larger classes tended to have better outcomes. My thinking on this is that teachers in smaller classrooms become less capable performers. They leverage the reduced workload for their benefit and not the benefit of their students. Also, I think a larger class provide more opportunity for students to connect with other students and get support when they miss something.

    One thing that Gates avocates as a consistent indicator of stronger outcomes is the amount of time spent in the classroom. He pushes for year-round schools and teachers that work a 12-month job like most other professions. Instead we get 9 months minus buckets of teacher “work days” and other special dates where the kids don’t attend class. Instead the teachers load them up with homework so the parents can do their job for them.

  14. J.R.

    Having had extensive experience with Davis schools, I too am convinced that they are vastly overrated. There are some excellent and committed teachers, but also many who are unfit to teach. These teachers, instead of being moved to an area where they could be productive, are left in the classroom to ruin the educational experiences of multiple generations of children. Particularly bad are some of the science teachers in the Junior High and High Schools, and some of the English teachers in the high school. I know for a fact that many Davis kids hate science and have contempt for the humanities because of their experience with these teachers.

    Despite the above, the Davis schools are vastly superior to the schools we provide in the lower income cities and school districts. The fact that we persist in this failed model of education year after year is one of the shames of the current era. We do so to benefit teacher unions and poor teachers, at the cost of students who lose educational opportunity and the better teachers who lose societal respect and status.

    Sure there are some who are lucky enough to have benefited from good public schools. Medwoman, why don’t you make an additional contribution to the schools proportional to the benefit they provided to you? If a lot of people benefited as you have, that should take care of the problem.

  15. medwoman

    Davis Enophile

    I think my experience with th public schools is fairly typical of students attending any school, whether public or private. Some of my teachers were truly inspiring, some were adequate, and some were completely uninspiring to me. This was very similar to my daughters experience both in public and private schools. This should come as no surprise to anyone since both students and teachers are individuals and will have varying degrees of rapport whether in a public or private venue.

    JB
    As for the link you sent. I read it and appear to have drawn some different conclusions from yours.
    If greater than 60 percent of the students say the teachers want them to do well and greater than 80 percent say they feel supported by the teachers, how is it that you appear to be laying all the blame on the teachers. It would seem to me that if the students anticipate that they will get into good schools on less than an hours work nightly, perhaps what is really needed is a realignment of their expectations. I think that involvement of the parents as well as the schools is necessary when there is such a discrepancy between expectation and reality.
    And to the degree that I even understand your definition of high achiever “template”I would have to say “no”. And I was certainly no Kira Argounova.

    Rusty49

    And, I bet that your geography and math would beat mine any day. I could probably beat you in the biological sciences and possibly English. This has much less to do with the quality of instruction I received initially than what I chose to focus on.
    I think the question of class size is more nuanced than you imply. While I agree that it would appear that most of the current information would indicate no benefit beyond the early elementary grades, that does not mean there is no benefit. I would be content with a graduated program with no more than 20 per class in K-3, and then increasing class sizes for the higher grades.

  16. Frankly

    Medwoman: you are defending mediocrity and I fear you don’t understand why that is a very bad thing.
    [Quote] • The three most-cited reasons for students who have considered dropping out are all school-related factors. “I didn’t like the school” was the answer for 53 percent of students who have considered dropping out in 2007, 51 percent in 2008. “I didn’t see the value in the work I was being asked to do” was the response of 44 percent in 2007, 45 percent in 2008. In 2007, 41 percent responded with “I didn’t like the teachers,” while 40 percent had the same response in 2008.
    • Fewer than half of the respondents (45 percent in 2007, 46 percent in 2008) said they are challenged academically in most or all of their classes.
    • Two out of three students (66 percent in each year) believe that “most” or “all” of their teachers want them to do the best work they can do.
    • Among instructional methods, those involving work and learning with peers rated most highly.
    • In each survey year, just 48 percent of respondents said they gave their maximum effort in “most” or “all” of their classes.
    “Girls report higher levels of engagement than boys; students in the honors tracks reported the highest levels of engagement while students in special education reported the lowest levels of engagement; by race and ethnicity, white and Asian students reported higher levels of engagement than students of other races,” [/quote]
    Add this all up and it sure sounds crappy to me.

    The fact is that it has been bad for a long time but most of us stomached through it and found our way. Since the US has had the lucky distinction of being the hotbed of the global economy, most of us managed to find good jobs despite 40% of us coming out of high school uninspired with the feeling we had just wasted several years of our lives.

    That won’t work any longer. The rest of the world has watched us and copied us and now is sucking away all the low hanging fruit of prosperity… the stuff that we previoulsy took for granted and that allowed the crappy public school education system to escape from accountability.

    Through their use of technology, my kids’ brains were zipping much faster than mine at their age. They are impatient little information sponges that learn though interactions with the real and virtual world… not sitting listening to a half-interested, half-committed non-performing bore of a teacher drone on and on… resentful about his job, his pay, the kids, their parents, the principle, the school, life. My boys had a big flame of enthusiasm that was snuffed out by the system. It is a system not worthy of what the US can do and should do. It is an ancient system. It is a system that is more about protecting the job security of people on the payroll, than providing the absolutely best educational experience and outcomes possible.

    Maybe my expectations are just chronically higher than yours. If so, why not support the higher expectations?

    Keep in mind that technology and outsourcing are starting to replace many jobs in the medical profession. There goes more of that low-hanging fruit.

  17. medwoman

    JB

    You misunderstand my position.
    I am as much in favor of excellence as you are .What I have experienced that perhaps you have not is that I feel that there was actually more student involvement in project based learning and less droning on and on at the public school DaVinci than there was at my daughter’s private school St.Francis. What you have not presented is an equivalent survey from private school students asked the same questions for a direct comparison, without such data there is no way of judging the relative merits.

  18. Frankly

    Don: that is an editorial from the most liberal major newspaper in the US. It was also a bit dated.

    It is also a disengenuous change-blocking mechanism to cite statistics from dubious studies funded usually by self-served wonks or beneficiaries of the same broken public education system. There are many examples of charter schools and vouchers making a huge difference with the kids that need it the most. The problem is that this approach is in a constant batttle with the Democrats and their powerful teachers union beneficiaries. Just look what happened in DC as Michele Rhee was proving this more market-based approach was working. Union money poured in from all over the nation to defeat her political cover and replace him with a union-sponsored wonk. Then Democrats in Congress killed the voucher program sending these poor DC kids back to their uneducated life of poverty and crime.

    Let’s say that I agree that there is no significant measurable data demonstrating that privitization of our K-12, or maybe grades 8-12, education system would return better results. What then is your solution for greatly improving the existing system? Or, do you think it is just fine the way it is? Or, do you think we can just nibble on it to improve a few things and it will be good enough? Or, do you think we should just spend a lot more money on the current system?

  19. medwoman

    I think that what we all can agree on is that we would like to see improvements in the education of our children. I don’t doubt the good intentions of anyone anyone who posts here. I do believe that it is incumbent upon us all to be willing to look past our personal entrenched beliefs, to understand that this is a multifactorial problem which requires creative problem solving, not finger pointing. There are innovative programs in both the public and private sectors. These should be supported wherever they occur. There are outmoded means of instruction and less than dynamic instructors in both sectors and to deny that is to choose to ignore reality.

    I personally would support a voucher system if there were guarantees in place to provide that all students would have equal access. Since this is not the case, I will support to the best of my ability the system that we have here in Davis which has shown it’s flexibility in the form of a variety of programs including Spanish immersion, Gate, Independent Study, King, DaVinci, and the regular program which are available to all according g to their interest and ability rather than their religion or some other arbitrary discriminatory criteria.
    This is hardly a one size fits all or “template” as had been suggested.

  20. Don Shor

    Here is the report the NY Times was referring to.
    “WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 — A large-scale government-financed study has concluded that when it comes to math, students in regular public schools do as well as or significantly better than comparable students in private schools.

    The study, by Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski, of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, compared fourth- and eighth-grade math scores of more than 340,000 students in 13,000 regular public, charter and private schools on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The 2003 test was given to 10 times more students than any previous test, giving researchers a trove of new data.

    Though private school students have long scored higher on the national assessment, commonly referred to as “the nation’s report card,” the new study used advanced statistical techniques to adjust for the effects of income, school and home circumstances. The researchers said they compared math scores, not reading ones, because math was considered a clearer measure of a school’s overall effectiveness.

    The study found that while the raw scores of fourth graders in Roman Catholic schools, for example, were 14.3 points higher than those in public schools, when adjustments were made for student backgrounds, those in Catholic schools scored 3.4 points lower than those in public schools. A spokeswoman for the National Catholic Education Association did not respond to requests for comment.

    The exam is scored on a 0-to-500-point scale, with 235 being the average score at fourth grade, and 278 being the average score at eighth grade. A 10-to-11-point difference in test scores is roughly equivalent to one grade level.

    The study also found that charter schools, privately operated and publicly financed, did significantly worse than public schools in the fourth grade, once student populations were taken into account. In the eighth grade, it found, students in charters did slightly better than those in public schools, though the sample size was small and the difference was not statistically significant.

    “Over all,” it said, “demographic differences between students in public and private schools more than account for the relatively high raw scores of private schools. Indeed, after controlling for these differences, the presumably advantageous private school effect disappears, and even reverses in most cases.”

    The findings are likely to bolster critics of policies supporting charter schools and vouchers as the solution for failing public schools. Under President Bush’s signature No Child Left Behind law, children in poorly performing schools can switch schools if space is available, and in Washington, D.C., they may receive federally financed vouchers to attend private schools.

    Howard Nelson, a lead researcher at the American Federation of Teachers, said the new study was based on the most current national data available. The federation, an opponent of vouchers that has criticized the charter movement, studied some of the same data in 2004 and reported that charter schools lagged behind traditional public ones.

    “Right now, the studies seem to show that charter schools do no better, and private schools do worse,” Mr. Nelson said. “If private schools are going to get funding, they need to be held accountable for the results.”

    Supporters of vouchers and charter schools, however, pointed to the study’s limitations, saying it gave only a snapshot of performance, not a sense of how students progressed over time. Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, said other state and local studies showed results more favorable to charter schools.

    Nelson Smith, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said that many students went to charter schools after doing poorly in traditional public schools, and took time to show improvement.

    “Snapshots are always going to be affected by that lag,” Mr. Smith said.

    Officials at the federal Education Department, which has been a forceful proponent of vouchers and charter schools, said they did not see this study as decisive. “We’ve seen reports on both sides of this issue,” said Holly Kuzmich, deputy assistant secretary for policy. “It just adds one more to the list.”

  21. Don Shor

    The study was financed with a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences at the Education Department, but was independent. The federal government is expected to issue two more studies looking at the same data and using similar techniques. Those studies are still undergoing peer review, but are expected to be released in early spring.

    The current study found that self-described conservative Christian schools, the fastest-growing sector of private schools, fared poorest, with their students falling as much as one year behind their counterparts in public schools, once socioeconomic factors like income, ethnicity and access to books and computers at home were considered.

    Taylor Smith Jr., vice president for executive support at the Association of Christian Schools, which represents 5,400 predominantly conservative Christian schools in the United States, said that many of the group’s members did not participate in the national assessment, which he thought could make it a skewed sample. Mr. Smith said he did not know how many schools from other Christian organizations participated.

    The report found that among the private schools, Lutheran schools did better than other private schools. Nevertheless, at the fourth-grade level, a 10.7 point lead in math scores evaporated into a 4.2 point lag behind public schools. At the eighth-grade level, a 21 point lead, roughly the equivalent of two grade levels, disappeared after adjusting for differences in student backgrounds.

    Correction: Feb. 1, 2006
    An article on Saturday about a government study comparing fourth- and eighth-grade math scores of students in regular public, charter and private schools on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress misspelled the surname of the researchers. They are Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski, not Lubianski.”

  22. wdf1

    JB: Why do you think Massachussett’s student test scores are so high (or highest) in spite of being a strong union state?

    See for instance —

    Reading: [url]http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_2007/r0005.asp[/url]

    Math: [url]http://nationsreportcard.gov/math_2007/m0005.asp[/url]

    A number of other traditionally pro-union states (NY, PA, OH, WI) also score above average. You have argued that it’s those “union thugs” that are messing up the education system.

  23. Mr.Toad

    So because you hate the schools and think they are crappy you are ok with de-funding them. Doesn’t seem like much of an alternative. Do you have any other solutions?

    I found the polling that showed that people want to protect school funding but don’t want to pay to protect it fascinating. The question is will they swallow taxes or not. My guess is that the voters will vote to pay up but not be happy about doing so.

  24. Frankly

    [i]”What makes you think there is “a solution?”[/i]

    You can’t escape the question with trickery. There is a solution to every problem, don’t you agree?

  25. wdf1

    rusty: [i]Ask a college kid today to balance a checkbook and I’ll bet over half couldn’t do it.[/i]

    That’s because most might use online banking.

    I bet nearly all students today can’t use a slide rule either. Just pathetic…

  26. Don Shor

    [i]There is a solution to every problem, don’t you agree?[/i]

    “A” solution? Of course not. And many proposed “solutions” have unintended consequences, such as defunding public schools in order to force changes.
    I disagree with your analysis about the supposedly dismal state of public schools, and have presented you with a study that shows that private schools fare no better. Can you show me evidence that contradicts that study?
    So privatizing education is not necessarily a better option in terms of outcome. It may be a better choice for some kids, but not others. I think that having more choice [i]within[/i] the public schools is a desirable goal because no single placement or teaching/learning style is appropriate for all kids. Charter schools within the public school system can lead to innovation; that is one of the reasons I supported the charter proposal for Valley Oak. Continuing to provide enrichment programs helps many students who would otherwise be turned off by school. Support services such as special ed, and tailored programs such as GATE and Spanish Immersion, are good choices for many kids.
    But the less funds the schools have, the fewer choices they can offer. There is nothing about your proposed policy — reducing funding for the public schools — that leads to better outcomes.

  27. Don Shor

    [i]”It always sickens me when they show a map of the world and ask a student where Egypt is and they have no clue.”[/i]
    My daughter called me from Iraq with great amusement to tell me that she was the only one in her unit who got 100% on the test of Mideast geography.

  28. wdf1

    JB: [i]here is something that explains some of what I am grouchy about: [/i]

    [url]http://educationresearchreport.blogspot.com/2009/11/high-school-survey-of-student.html[/url]

    [quote]Another student said ‘I always wished at least one teacher would see a skill in me that seemed extraordinary, or help to encourage its growth.’ So there’s a lot of feeling that teachers can make a lot of difference in the experience and the achievement of students.”[/quote]

    How can this individual attention factor can happen very easily if we keep increasing class sizes?

    [quote] In 2007, 41 percent responded with “I didn’t like the teachers,”while 40 percent had the same response in 2008.
    [/quote]

    I wonder what they would say about those teachers if the same survey were given to the same students, but 10 years later. I remember not liking specific HS teachers in the moment, but later softening my views of them. I think there’s a caveat to interpreting the results as adults. Teenagers operate a little differently. I also wonder what is an optimal response to expect for this question.

  29. Don Shor

    “My boys had a big flame of enthusiasm that was snuffed out by the system. …
    Maybe my expectations are just chronically higher than yours.”
    Jeff, you said before that you didn’t get involved in your kids’ education. You were too busy. Yet you blame the school system for their outcomes, and have high expectations that the schools will work without your involvement.
    The characteristic that is commonly shown to have good outcome is a high level of parental involvement. From one study:
    “In the primary age range the impact caused by different levels of parental involvement is much bigger than differences associated with variations in the quality of schools. The scale of the impact is evident across all social classes and all ethnic groups.”

  30. medwoman

    I agree with Don on a couple of points.
    1) I do not believe there is a single solution to this very complex issue.
    2) I think that expanding the options for students rather than cutting them is likely to yield better results by allowing students choices which allow them to maximize their own learning style.

    I would also agree with extending rather than cutting school hours. I would argue that there is no longer any rationale for the summer break and that schools should operate year around with short winter and summer breaks to avoid loss of skills during the prolonged vacation.

    Finally,and this is sure to bring some wrath upon me, I think teachers should be payed more,, not less, commensurate with the importance of their role in our society and should be held accountable and shown respect for the professionals they are.

  31. J.R.

    This is all very well, but it gets away from our responsibility for the failure of the current public education system in the low income areas.

    By agreeing to ignore this, as this discussion has, we are implicitly endorsing it.

    We are saying – public education isn’t too bad here in Davis, so we’ll support it, even if it ruins the lives of millions of future Californians. And we’re self-righteous too, pretending that because we support paying a few hundred dollars in taxes we are the good guys who stand for the future. Whereas the truth is we have abandoned our responsibility to the next generation of this state in order not to confront the teachers unions. The future will not look back kindly on our actions.

  32. Don Shor

    Wait — so we should cut funding for Davis schools because schools in other areas aren’t as good? Or what? I’m not following your logic on this. And how should we “confront the teachers unions?”

  33. medwoman

    JR

    “We are saying….”

    No, that is not at all what I am saying..
    First, I do not believe in “confronting” anyone. I simply do not believe that the teachers are .greedy “bad guys” and that the private schools and tax payers are the “good guys” in some “them vs us”story. I believe that individual’s on both sides genuinely want to do the right thing for our students. There are very thoughtful people on both sides of this issue. If we, not just in Davis, but throughout California and the US were to decide to work together instead of “confronting” and turning the educational system into a political football we could build a truly exceptional educational system available to all.

    So bearing in mind that I am speaking about the well being of all American children,some simple proposals:
    1) Elevate education to a top national priority ((right up there with the military)
    2) Elevate the status of readers to that of other professionals by demanding more rigorous training including extensive course work in their subject matter, internships and training programs on a par with those of other professions. Then provide those teachers with commensurate salaries and respect that other professionals enjoy. Demand ongoing education and credentialing as we do for doctors.
    3) Create a mandatory two years of national service for new graduates (either after high school or college) which could be spent in the area of their choice ( education , health care, elder care, infrastructure maintenance….. ) with compensation similar to the military.
    4) Make it an expectation that all school children will, as they master new skills, help others to acquire them thus promoting a collaborative learning model.
    5) Actively promote the development and implementation of new ideas by using small pilots with rapid assessments of change, implementation of that which works and elimination of that which does not.
    6) Extend rather than decrease instructional hours by eliminating the obsolete “summer vacation” in favor of two or three much shorter breaks.

    I am sure that those of you who care enough about this issue to write would also have ideas about the positive steps that we could take as individuals and as a nation. It would be interesting to hear those ideas as well as the familiar themes of “confront the other” , whomever we perceive that to be.

  34. wdf1

    JB: [i]Why isn’t this governor advocating real education reform if he is really motivated to “work for education”? The reason… he is working “for the public employee unions”. Just as many of us expected would happen if he was elected. [/i]

    A side question to this comment. A few articles ago, you commented on Finland as a country producing superior results in education. Finland is also a strongly unionized country. It appears that this union culture isn’t interfering with their good results.

    [url]http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/world_news_america/8601207.stm[/url]

  35. David M. Greenwald

    A lot of people hit on the fact that it is difficult to get rid of poor teachers, but ignore the fact that a lot of the conditions in the classroom and lack of resources cause the problem in the first place. If you don’t fix the cause, even being able to get rid of bad teachers isn’t going to solve a lot of problems.

  36. Davis Enophile

    [quote]Wait — so we should cut funding for Davis schools… [/quote]

    Don: I fail to see how “we” are cutting funding by voting no. Measure A is not [i]my[/i] solution. My solution is one of greater equity across the state of California. Simply because others have put this before me, I do not accept attempts of making me responsible for defunding Davis schools.

  37. Davis Enophile

    Lack of resources in the Davis classroom is a farce, David. I taught high school in western Africa. Lack of resources had an impact there. But its utter BS to claim that here in Davis.

  38. medwoman

    Davis Enophile

    “lack of resources” is of course relative. If your comparison is with westenr Africa or Honduras where I recently spent some time in rural outreach, yes we have plenty of resources. If your reference point is the district as it is now vs how it will be with 60 fewer teachers and staff,
    the future doesn’t look quite so bountiful.

  39. Frankly

    [i]Don: “Jeff, you said before that you didn’t get involved in your kids’ education”[/i]

    Never said that at all. Our involvement was greater than average, but probably short of the typical high academic achieving Davis parent that has the resources and lifestyle to devote copious time making up for the failures of the public schools.

    You and I might disagree with the amount of parental effort considered reasonable to ensure you child gets a quality education. But, you cannot say that we didn’t get involved. It is one thing to get involved to help your child get over a hump, or to advocate for him to get the best teachers and the right classes, or to help at the school in programs he participates in. It is another matter to get involved as a supplemental teacher to your child because the school is doing a crappy job.

  40. Frankly

    Questions for measure A supporters:

    1. Do you think the quality of K-12 education from Davis schools is good enough?

    2. If not, then do you support making changes to improve Davis K-12 education?

    3. If you support making changes, what are the the changes you would like to see?

    4. How should we make the changes you would like to see?

  41. E Roberts Musser

    Having taught 8th grade math and science; junior college math/techmath; and having been a parent whose kids all graduated from UCD w degrees but did not have great experiences w K-12 schools, here is how I would make changes:
    1. Stop using “new math”. Drill is not a bad thing. Above all else students need to be grounded in the basics. This should occur at our teaching colleges at a minimum, and be promoted by each school’s adminisration.
    2. Teachers should never assume a student is “stupid” based on their past record. Except each student w a fresh eye.
    3. Teachers need to make it clear to students they absolutely believe students can achieve greatness and master the material. “I cannot” from a student is not acceptable. “I don’t understand” from students is encouraged and help will be provided by the teacher, even if after school.
    4. Teachers must support each other, and not denigrate other teachers who are excelling in successfully teaching students.
    5. The administration must support teaching excellence; and take care of discipline problems when necessary.
    6. Not all students are teachable. Those who cannot conform their behavior to appropriate standards (like wielding a knife at another student, beating up other students, refusing to come to school more than half the time, disrupting class almost every day) must be placed outside the normal school system.

    That’s just for starters. From my experience: Funding is not the real problem in our schools, nor class size. Schools are a cesspool of: teachers undermining each other and their own students; ineffective administrators who refuse to handle discipline problems; students allowed to get completely out of control who do not belong in a regular classroom; ineffective teaching methods. Until the school districts are willing to take a good hard look at what really goes on inside their own “Blackboard Jungles”, things will never improve no matter how much money you throw at the problem.

    I’ve seen this from all angles, as a student, teacher, parent of a student. The only side I haven’t been on is the administrative side – and I’m sure administrators could tell you their own horror stories. Schools are not safe, they do not teach very well for far too many students, and they are not cost effective. There is much room for improvement. This is my perception from having experienced far too much dysfunctionality…

  42. medwoman

    JB

    I have already addressed some of your questions in previous posts which you have not addressed, so you may or may not have read them so I will be brief.

    1) Good enough for what ? Good enough that the majority of children, given the variety of program choices can find the niche that helps them prepare adequately for their next educational or work steps ? Absolutely! Good enough that everyone makes it into Harvard ? No.

    2) Do I favor making changes both here and throughout the entire Amerucan educational system? Absolutely.

    3) I listed my starting points in my earlier post.

    4) I see Davis , with our historically very strong commitment to education as a great pilot site for a small test of change strategy.
    For example, we could provide even stronger support for our magnet schools and closely track the out comes in terms of college entrance,
    completion, and other metrics such as productive employment at 5 and 10 years as compared with DHS and private high schools
    We could choose to maintain small class sizes in k-3 where there is demonstrated superiority in smaller size.

    Finally, I think we have a basic philosophic difference which perhaps the Finns do not have.
    I always considered it primarily my responsibility to provide the education my children needed to be successful in the world. I viewed the public education system as a resource towards that goal just as I later viewed my daughters time at St. Francis in the same light. At no tome did I feel ( ok, maybe when she hit honors calculus) that it was the school’s exclusive responsibility to educate my children. During the combined 24 years of my children’s education in both public and private schools there were only two times ( one public and one private) where I felt the instruction was so “crappy”as to require me as a supplement. I do not feel that qualifies as systemically ” crappy” by any standard.

  43. E Roberts Musser

    medwoman: “At no tome did I feel ( ok, maybe when she hit honors calculus) that it was the school’s exclusive responsibility to educate my children.”

    This is a telling statement. My guess is your children are high achievers who fit in very well wherever they are. I suspect you did too. Now that is an educated guess, so please correct me if I am wrong. It is easy to teach kids that “fit” the normal high achieving template in schools. But I can tell you from experience that teachers often do not deal well with students who are not high achievers, or are high achievers that don’t fit the “normal” mold. And this is where schools fail abysmally. But I think some blame goes to the teaching colleges, who are not very good at teaching good educational techniques. Instead they tend to overburden prospective teachers w meaningless busywork w some newfangled approaches that don’t work very well in practice.

    By the way, no disrespect meant to “all” doctors. Just noting some don’t know diddly squat, just as in any profession, while other doctors do make mistakes and sometimes “bury” those errors. (Know 3 cases of clear medical malfeasance.)

  44. Frankly

    Elaine: Very good stuff. I agree with everything you mentioned based on my experience as a past K-12 student, a parent of K-12 students and someone that has taught a number of college-level subjects in a corporate setting. I might see a bit more urgency in the situation, but it is refreshing for me to see that an experienced educator sees some of the same problems and opportunities.

    Now we get to the “how” point. If the education establishment and Brown were at least talking about these types of reforms in earnest, then they would have my ear. If they would commit to some of all of them, then they have my wallet. We are hearing none of this. All we are hearing is a marketing campaign to put fear in people that it will get worse unless we tax ourselves more.

    The problem here is that when the economy heats up again and funding shortfalls are not so drastic, people will ignore these problems and opportunities like they have for the last 20-30 years.

    Early in my career I managed a data center for a large bank. When the mainframe went down, nobody could access their accounts and work could not get done. This was only a temporary problem… the mainframe would never be down for more than several minutes (the company had to have multiple redundant systems to prevent it). One of my performance measurements was “system availability” (the time the mainframe was up and users could access it). My performance expectation for these was 99.8%. That meant… out of every thousand hours, the mainframe could only be unavailable two of those hours at the maximum.

    I use this as an example for how performance expectations look in the private sector versus what the public-sector education establishment is accountable for. In my case, a customer might be angry that she could not access her ATM for more than two hours in a thousand hour period, and I could lose my job because of it. In the public education system, teachers can fail 40% of time and permanently damage the entire lifespan of many people… and the teacher still keeps his/her job forever. What is more amazing to me is how many people are okay with this. Note that I do not blame the teachers here… it is the system. Teachers too are trapped in the crappy system. It is a broken system and needs to drastically change.

    [i]” I always considered it primarily my responsibility to provide the education my children needed to be successful in the world.”[/i]

    Medwoman: it sounds like you are more inclined to be a home school supporter with this mindset. Otherwise where do you draw the line? Why do we “certify” teachers if they are not the best suited to teach certain subjects to our kids? Trust me, I can teach circles around teachers in many subjects that my kids need and I do on a regular basis. But english, algebra and science? Give me a break.

    I agree with Elaine here… we all see the world better through our own experiences, and it sounds like your kids excelled at academics and fit in to the favorite Davis student template. If they are girls, then it would make more sense since the education system has migrated toward more a girl-friendly, boy-hostile, style and curriculum.

    Failing 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%, 5%… even 2% of the kids make it a crappy system in my opinion. How do we raise the bar to “98% engagement”? Free markets, because the existing public-sector system will never get there.

  45. medwoman

    Elaine

    You are 1/3 correct. I was not inherently a high achiever and definitely did not fit in well. I endured. But that would have been the case in any school setting until I matured a bit. My daughter is a natural high achiever and would shine anywhere. My son, the same until middle school when he had the beginnings of a major depression. One can say anything they like about the “crappy system”and indifferent teachers yet I credit the counsellors at both DHS and DaVinci for their astute and compassionate handling of his situation , and the superb teachers at DaVinci for helping him make up for lost time enabling him to graduate and get on with his education and future. Several of these folks are now the proud possessors of pink slips. While I agree with many previous statements about what I perceive as mistakes made by the unions, and public officials, I cannot see using those as an excuse for cutting back on teachers and counsellors which will definitely impact students like my son. Another Point I would like to make about smaller class size. While it may not make that much of a statistical difference and may not matter much to the high achievers, it was critical for my son. I don’t believe he is alone.

    I agree with many of your statements about improvements that you would like to see. I also have some experience teaching adult education, English as a Second Language and as a clinical instructor although clearly not as extensive as yours. I also have a lot of volunteering at the elementary level. Your posts frequently emphasize the negative. I cannot help but feel that with as much experience as you have, you must have encountered many fine and dedicated teachers. I know I did.

    To JB

    I think that home schooling is a fine option for a family in which one or both parents have the time to dedicate to a very intensive task. I know that was not an option for me as a single mother with a 50 hour work week. And I believe that it is not an option for most people in our society today where two incomes are frequently needed to stay afloat financially. But I a am a little puzzled by one aspect of your reasoning. You, and some of the other conservatives who post seem to feel that they got an adequate education as did I. Now, unless all of you went to private schools, the public schools must have been doing something right. As a matter of fact, on one of your posts you stated that we had created the best system in the world and that the rest of the world had emulated us. I cannot see hoe that jibes with your contention that it is a complete failure and we need the free market to save us. Especially since as pointed out by Don Shor, it does not seem to do a demonstrably better job.

  46. E Roberts Musser

    medwoman: ” I cannot help but feel that with as much experience as you have, you must have encountered many fine and dedicated teachers. I know I did.”

    There is no question I encountered fine and dedicated teachers. But the educational system is defined by the sum of its parts. Too many of its parts are dysfunctional and self-perpetuating. However, that did not enter my thinking on Measure A. For me, the critical issue on Measure A was whether we could “afford” to lay off more teachers, at a time when we need to keep people employed…

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