[This is the addended transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 4 October 2017.]
Amid an ongoing parade of mass demonstrations against racism, massive calamities by mother nature, and mass shootings at public venues, we have another ongoing, more insidious, and little-known crisis that directly impacts our community, and will continue to do so far beyond these massive disruptions for at least a generation to come. The crisis is in our lamentable public K-12 education system, and it continues as highlighted in the recent report (here) from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress that now includes test results of students taught the controversial Common Core curriculum.
California’s national standing in education is in a sorry state – 10th from the last to be exact, according to a battery of metrics compiled by Education News. (more here) And in the above cited California assessment report we learn that in ‘English Language Arts/Literacy’ more than half of K-12 students fail to meet the state standard, and in mathematics more than two out of three students fail to meet standards. And this is happening in our nation’s largest state that considers itself the mecca of high tech, and draws most of its revenues from STEM companies and the millionaires it has spawned.
In Nevada County, where we attempt to halt the departure of our tech and manufacturing companies and attract new ones, our schools are not helping, save for an outlier, the exemplary but very selective Ghidotti Early College High School. For example, Nevada Union High School students’ performance in mathematics, critical for all STEM related careers in technology and manufacturing, 70% did not meet standards. In English literacy, two out of five performed below standard. The Bear River High School students scored better with one out of six failing to meet the literacy standard, but still had half of their students unable to meet the math standard.
No matter how much we like to pat ourselves on the back about our teachers and schools, the bottom line is how well our students are prepared for college, where they will learn their workplace skills. A recent National Public Radio report stated that “the vast majority of public two- and four-year colleges report enrolling students – more than half a million of them–who are not ready for college-level work, … The numbers reveal a glaring gap in the nation’s education system: A high school diploma, no matter how recently earned, doesn’t guarantee that students are prepared for college courses.”
For some decades there has been an obvious tension between parents and teachers who want schools to educate students, and the entrenched teachers unions whose overarching objective is to maintain the status quo and maximize union memberships by lowering the bar for educators at all levels. To do this requires dumbing down the curriculum, opposing revealing tests for both teachers and students, suppressing the publication of existing test results, and actively supporting compliant politicians in state legislatures with money and votes.
In light of all this, many of our progressive neighbors in Nevada County do not condone disseminating this information on our students’ performance, and have a record of dunning anyone, myself included, who sheds light on this issue. But the naked truth is that sweeping such education performance results under the rug, while celebrating outlier and/or irrelevant occasions of student achievements, is what got us to this sorry state of affairs.
Given our heavy funding of education, it is clear that the dollars are being misspent – too much is going to extraneous and irrelevant government mandated programs and staffing, and not enough is going to classrooms where we educate the mainstream youngsters who make up the lion’s share of our student populations and subsequently the nation’s workforce. My advice to parents is to take an extraordinary interest in your children’s education, and become active within their schools and elected school boards.
My name is Rebane, and I also expand on this and related themes on Rebane’s Ruminations where the addended transcript of this commentary is posted with relevant links, and where such issues are debated extensively. However, my views are not necessarily shared by KVMR. Thank you for listening.
[Addendum] First I’d like to thank a regular reader who alerted me to the published test results and Nevada County’s performance.
I anticipate that these test results will be spun in a much more salutary manner by the Left in order to keep people distracted during the downward spiral of our K-12 system toward a cosseted, compliant, and politically correct cohort of emerging graduates. What’s left out in these commentaries is the increasing threshold of academic performance and/or intellectual acumen (which the tests measure) required by the new jobs created through technology’s ‘creative destruction’ of old jobs. Doing well by yesterday’s measure does not mean that you’re doing well today. I attempted to make this graphically clear in ‘edX meets the workforce’ several years ago.
The outstanding performance of the Ghidotti Early College High School in the CASPP report is worth highlighting. As usual, it’s the underlying numbers that provide the necessary perspective and tell the tale. In 2016 Nevada County’s K-12 enrollment was 11,607 students. Of these 2,995 were enrolled in our high schools. You have to be an especially talented kid to get into Ghidotti (applications for the next school year will start being accepted in November), and, reflecting that, the entire school’s attendance is 162 students of whom only the 45 juniors were tested. That goes a long way to explain why they were ranked first in the state on the reported assessment tests on which all of them met or exceeded the required performance standards.