Skip to comments.California's Expensive ZIP Codes Deliver Cut-Rate Education Results
Posted on 12/02/2007 1:58:39 PM PST by Coleus
Opinion polls have long shown stronger than average support for school choice among Hispanics and African-Americans. Suburban complacency could explain much of this gap. If so, this fascinating book by a team of Pacific Research Institute scholars comes as an alarming wake-up call to well-to-do Californians who believe America's education crisis is someone else's problem. California's public schools are in a bad way. Only about four of 10 students in grades two through 11 scored at or above the proficient level in English language arts and math on the California Standards Test (CST), the state's main standardized tests, in 2006.
On the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only two of 10 California fourth-graders scored at or above the proficient level in reading, and only three of 10 scored at or above proficiency in math. Scores for California's eighth-graders were either the same or worse. These numbers suggest suburbs statewide don't have a lot of high-performing schools. California's schools fail to educate a large portion of students up to the state's own standards, much less those of NAEP.
The authors make this point abundantly clear in a tour of California cities with a combination of very high-priced homes and poorly performing public schools. The following passage gives you the flavor of this tour:
"Travel down the coast to San Diego County and one finds the city of Carlsbad, ranked by several magazines as one of the most expensive communities in the state. While the area has some new subdivisions, the neighborhoods in Carlsbad High School's zip code are mainly characterized by more established single-family homes, some on streets without sidewalks or lighting to preserve a rural feeling. Carlsbad High is in a district called Olde Carlsbad, which has houses that range from giant mansions to more modest one-story homes. The median home price in the school's zip code is $645,000. "At Carlsbad High, 66 percent of students are white, 22 percent are Hispanic, less than 7 percent participate in the free-and-reduced lunch program, and slightly more than 5 percent are English language learners. Less than half of 11th-graders, 48 percent, score at or above proficiency on the CST English exam, while only 27 percent score at that level on the CST algebra I exam. Thirty percent score at or above the proficient mark on the CST geometry exam and 36 percent score at that level on the CST algebra II exam."
The authors drive home a point made in 2003 by Elizabeth Warren and others in The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke (Basic, 2003), but with an additional turn of the knife. Warren demonstrated many middle-income families have been bankrupting themselves trying to buy into neighborhoods with highly regarded public schools. The PRI team demonstrates in California these same families have likely over-mortgaged themselves for overrated schools failing to teach affluent children.
The authors thoroughly and convincingly argue for expanded parental choice in order to jolt suburban public schools out of complacent mediocrity. California home prices are more than twice the national average, but fourth-grade reading scores are tied for 48th among the 50 states. For all the pride and beauty of the Golden State, one cannot escape the conclusion there is something deeply unsustainable about this situation. This clarion call for far-reaching education reform is both timely and urgent. Matthew Ladner, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice president for policy at the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
The CTA has a solution to this problem. They are working hard to abolish the standardized tests.
My kids went to a good high school with many kids from very affluent homes, like those in the Carlsbad district.
(Not us! Solidly middle-class here.)
There were plenty of rich white kids who were poor students, largely because they were so spoiled they weren’t held accountable at home. Parents wanted them to have the best of everything, including good times and happy childhoods.
Contrast that with the relatively poor Asian kids, those with immigrant parents, who studied non-stop because that’s what their culture expected.
Mind you, those are extremes, but I saw them both during the 19 years my kids were in school. Repeatedly.
It’s not right to blame the schools, ethnicity, affluence, etc. Kids learn and perform when they’re reared to value education, plain and simple.
...who studied non-stop because thats what their culture expected.
I have heard this over and over again. And it simply isn’t true. It isn’t what “their culture expected.” It’s what they believe American culture expects and rewards. It’s actually central to the “American Dream.” Work hard and succeed.
I don’t know who you’re arguing with.
Yes, hard work and success is what their (Asian-American) culture expects. That’s what it takes to get ahead in this country, and those parents see that their kids do what is required.
Perhaps you think that by “their culture” I meant some overseas values. Far from it. I refer to the mindset of immigrant parents who know what it takes and want their kids to succeed. Rich folk tend to want their kids to have it easy and are less demanding.
Just telling you what I’ve seen, what I know. I think we’re saying the same thing.
We are saying the same thing. It isn’t an “overseas culture,” it’s “American immigrant culture.”
I married a woman with kids from Oregon, moved her back to the midwest. In Oregon her daughter was in the talented and gifted program. In our midwestern PUBLIC school, she was so far behind her teachers at first thought she was borderline retarded!
The comparison of her California standardized testing and the Iowa Basic we use here were night and day.
I’m a business owner. I will never hire a west coast high school graduate . Their degree means nothing.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
Over 87% of the children are English learners.
Almost every student is classified below poverty level.
100% of all students receive free or reduced priced meals.
Yet the school is rated at above seven on a scale of one to ten.
My guess is that without a LOT of extra effort and expense of these dedicated parents the passing kids would have failed the CST exam as well. Conclusion:
1) All academically successful children are homeschooled or “after-schooled”.
2) California government indoctrination centers are not educating anyone at all.
My daughter goes to a large, big name, private university, not easy to get into. I’ll tell you, the quality of students there astounds me.
She had her appendix out in June and had been having some digestive complaints, pain and nausea (lactose intolerance, it turns out). Anyway, one of her friends asked her if it could be her appendix again....... My daughter is still wondering how this girl got accepted by the school. Nice girl, but really clueless.
She has other stories as well....
First, I want to thank you, metmom, for doing such a great job posting such interesting education articles. I really appreciate it.
My comment is this. We are currently ooking for an independent secondary school for my older son. As we were being guided around one school, the admissions officer noted this upsetting anecdote: the students from private schools are accustomed to having their teachers as part of a “team,” supporting the students from academics to athletics, and they often do well as such boarding schools. But the students from public schools are much more skeptical and find it hard to connect with private school teachers. I find that disturbing; these public students are missing out on so much.
And the tendency not appear smart is fairly prevalent in all schools. But by dumbing down their work, students are sabatoging their future.
My son is eager to join the “geek squad” at one school, a moniker accepted by those very students who excel at robotics, aeronautics and electronics. I hope they are being trained to become the excellent engineers of our future.