Maybe California will get back on track.
Once California’s public schools were the envy of most of the nation. Most of them worked well, and proved very attractive to new businesses who needed well-educated workers for increasingly complex and technical jobs. Then the state lurched to a “don’t spend” mode with Proposition 13, which severely limited tax increases, and the school system began a long slide towards mediocrity.
Growth in the Las Vegas, Nevada, schools is driven in part by people fleeing California for better schools.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports a change in attitude in the top levels of government:
SACRAMENTO – A sweeping $3 billion agreement to give hundreds of low-performing schools smaller classes, more qualified teachers and additional counselors was revealed yesterday by the Schwarzenegger administration and the California Teachers Association.
The proposal would create one of the largest pilot programs in state history, targeting 600 struggling schools heavily populated with minority students.
What a unique idea! Who would have thought that targeting low-performing schools with money to improve education would, you know, improve education?
Meanwhile, other states struggle with “reform” efforts designed to take money away from struggling schools. Nation to education: “The floggings will continue until morale improves.”
The article details the education bill a little:
The article explains the education parts of the bill:
California Teachers Association President Barbara Kerr lauded the pilot schools plan, saying it includes “things that our members have said make experienced teachers go to our schools of greatest need and helps the kids the most.”
As the plan abruptly surfaced in the Assembly Education Committee yesterday, there were complaints about the lack of time for review and questions about whether class-size reduction, while popular, improves education. Some critics also said such spending decisions should be made at the local level.
With the support of the powerful teachers union and Schwarzenegger, Senate Bill 1133 by Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, seems headed for passage before lawmakers leave town.
The bill allocates $3 billion from a settlement announced in May of a lawsuit filed by the teachers union against Schwarzenegger for underfunding the Proposition 98 guarantee two years ago.
The settlement with the teachers union, reinforced by the new agreement, helps Schwarzenegger deal with education funding issues raised by his Democratic challenger in the governor’s race, state Treasurer Phil Angelides.
The estimated 600 schools in the pilot program would be selected from applicants among 1,600 low-performing schools whose scores on statewide tests are in the bottom 20 percent.
The schools would have to maintain an average class size of 20 students in kindergarten through the third grade, a current requirement, and an average of 25 students not to exceed 27 students in most fourth-through 12th-grade classes.
The schools would have to have at least one credentialed counselor for every 300 students. Using a new index, the average experience of teachers would have to equal or exceed the district average.
The schools also would have to move toward a three-year goal of improving their test scores. Pupil attendance and graduation rates also would be expected to show improvement.
Schools in the pilot program would receive an additional $500 per pupil for kindergarten through third grade, $900 for fourth through eighth grade, and $1,000 for grades nine through 12.
The teachers union said schools with test scores in the bottom 20 percent have 134 percent more English learners than other schools, 98 percent more students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, and 167 percent more parents who did not graduate from high school.
Schwarzenegger’s education secretary, Alan Bersin, said he regards improving the quality of teachers as the No. 1 problem facing low-performing schools.
“This permits our lowest-performing schools to both recruit and retain teachers, and they have to agree beforehand to meet targets,” said Bersin, the former San Diego schools superintendent