COMMENTARY | LOS ANGELES -- Education Week's report card is in and California's educational policy and performance merits a "C." The status of K-12 achievements received a disappointing "F," even as standards came in with an "A." I believe that fixing the state's public education system calls for a three-prong approach: Increase per-student spending, cut wasteful spending and weed out ineffective educators. California lawmakers must lead and expect school districts and unions to follow -- even if they are initially reluctant.
Evidence for this much-needed approach is plentiful. The Silicon Valley Education Foundation points a quick finger to school spending. While California previously ranked 43rd in national per-pupil spending, it went to 47th place in the last year. On average, California spends $8,667 on the education of a student.
Yet even this spending is not without its problems. The California Taxpayers' Association chronicles waste in the way schools and school districts spend the funds allotted to them. Take, for example, the Los Angeles Unified School District. It spent $200 million "more in salaries in 2009" than originally planned. While there is no accusation of unlawful activity, there is concern since "auditors were unable to determine how $200 million of the money was spent" in the wake of layoffs.
California's problems with education do not stop at wasteful spending and insufficient funds. Teachers, too, occasionally stand in the way of progress. The California Federation of Teachers highlights the opposition to a proposed Best Practices Teacher Evaluation System proposed in the legislature. Balking at the idea of using test results as a partial basis for teacher evaluations, critics suggest that this type of proposal should be cut off immediately because they fear that it is really about "weakening in particular teacher unions, and rolling back the clock on teacher rights to the early twentieth century."
- Politics & Government