The newspaper story says the state is threatening to withhold some $2 million from two schools here that didn’t meet their test score goals.
What the state is saying – what it always says – is that those schools struggling with low, inner city school funding, crime and other problems should be further penalized for not performing to the same standards as those schools not so struggling.
It seems to me that everything about the way California’s school districts are funded is, putting it bluntly, bass-ackwards.
As it was explained to me, many moons ago some suits got together, divided the state into school districts and determined which ones were low income. And those are the ones that get the smallest portion of the taxes collected to fund school districts.
This arrangement is, evidently, carved in stone, because when I asked what would happen if everyone in our low-income school district town were to hit the lottery and become millionaires, I was told this would not change its low-income designation.
Of course, everyone knows the poorest school district or the poorest anything, needs the most money to offset its poverty, unless the object is to perpetuate the status quo.
I was told that wealthy people move into these nicer districts, assuming the taxes they pay will ensure their children get a good education, and they would be unhappy were their taxes to go disproportionally to fund lower-income districts. And that makes sense, sort-of.
But, were the state to distribute the funds equally, the wealthier districts would still have a greater ability to raise funds from the personal fortunes of its residents than the poorer districts, and would, therefore, still have more money. But the baseline being the same would give some hope to the poorer districts, where now there just is none.
Also, adding insult to injury, the state expect students in lower-income districts, which, as I pointed out, are also encumbered by social issues like drugs, crime, illiteracy and a lack of English language skills, to perform to the same level on standardized tests as students in the richer, less negatively impacted districts. And when they inevitably don’t, they are threatened with the withholding of money.
Am I wrong or does this system appear designed to create and perpetuate an inescapable class system? Like someone recently pointed out to me, the country needs a class of burger-flippers and maybe this is how it’s maintained. Isn’t there a frightening science fiction book based on this model?
One need not be a brain surgeon to know the last thing a struggling school or school district needs is less money.
“They” have also tried tying teacher raises and bonuses to test scores, which is also not fair. The teachers have the students only a few hours a day, and don’t even get their hands on children until well after their families have done whatever shaping they do in the first five years of life.
The reward for helping a student apply him/herself and improve should be offered to the student and/or the student’s family, if you really want results.
The student who turns in all his/her homework for a week/two weeks/a month, gets an ice cream. Or the family of the student or students who raise their grade for a quarter or semester or year, gets a trip to Disneyland or Six Flags or a pizza party, or whatever.
I’ll bet that would be money much more effectively spent than bonuses for teachers who have little control over a student’s after-school life.
This can be scaled down and adapted for smaller goals, like, the problem student who stays out of trouble for a week gets an ice cream or slice of pizza or whatever.
Anyway, my point is that, at least in California, the education system needs to be completely rethought from the bottom up. It’s gone from being the nation’s top to its second worst. Clearly what they’re doing now isn’t working. They need to turn that ship around now, before any further generations are permanently harmed.
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