Wednesday, February 16, 2005

California Education System Still Broken

Matthew J. Peterson writes for the
Local Liberty: The Blog of the Center for Local Government of the Claremont Institute :

Still Broken: The Education System

The real surprise in this week's pioneering EdTrust-West study of teacher salaries in California schools isn't that there are gaps in experience and pay between schools serving affluent whites and Asians and those with high percentages of poor and minority students.

The stunner is how large the average gap is . . . We're not talking about differences between districts, but within the same districts. In Sacramento, the annual difference is $5,660 per teacher. In Fresno, it's $3,120. In the high schools it's a lot more.

Peter Schrag's Sac Bee column doesn't explicitly state the fundamental irony of this depressing report.

As Schrag has also said recently, "Once the California Supreme Court handed down its Serrano decisions in the 1970s, which required the state to equalize school funding between poor and affluent schools districts, it severed an essential link connecting local voters, property owners and taxpayers to school funding."

The irony is that these attempts to equalize school funding, besides severely damaging the structure of local and state government, didn't work. For all the controversy, talk, and money spent on education in the state, inequality still exists.

While most astute observers of California politics see that the absence of local government's (and therefore, local citizen's) control over their property taxes and schools is a problem, does anyone think that our schools have gotten better at educating since the 1970s?

Turns out that for all the damage done in the name of equal protection, the schools still don't spend money equally. I'd venture to guess that the achievement gap between students from poor and rich communities has gotten worse, or stayed the same. Any good information on this out there?

Of course, many of these sorts of statistics are hard to get at, because they terrify the educrats in charge.

EdTrust-Wed's study and plenty more information can be found here.

I was educated in the California Public schools through the late 1960's and before the Serrano decision. Every local community took pride in their LOCAL schools and supported them financially - to the point of even increasing their own local property taxes.

With the advent of Serrano equalization there was no incentive to move into a residential area with "good schools" and pay for them. Resentment followed and why pay ever increasing property taxes when they were redistributed to someone else removed from your community.

This hostility gave birth to Prop 13 and the state centralization of California government with the concomitant rapid decline in California Public Education.

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