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Just Say No To Educational Failure
Rudy Takala, a 16 year old student advocate, writes about how California taxpayers have been markedly generous to their failed education establishment, and he believes that until someone gets around to actually making it work, it doesn't deserve more funding.
Just say no to educational failure
by Rudy Takala, June 17, 2005
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently gave a fifteen minute commencement address to the graduates of Santa Monica College. He was forced to do so over the noise emanating from hundreds of protestors, an event which purportedly caused him to turn red and which has been amply covered by the news in recent days.
Another protest against Schwarzenegger took place last March in San Jose; that one was attended primarily by students of East San Jose high schools. Organizers had to keep asking the students to step back. One woman irately screamed in response, "We've taken too many steps back!"
Around the early part of June, one more near-riot against Schwarzenegger took place in the Silicon Valley. The union leaders who organized this particular event had to escort a limousine out of a crowd that was attempting to tip it over. (The crowd's hope was that the governor was inside; he was not).
The violence erupting in California today is reminiscent of the fascist squadrismo violence imposed on Italy during the early part of the 1920's. Led by local fascist leaders known as "ras" (after the Ethiopian word for chieftain), squadrismo sought to bring about political change through political violence and turmoil. In California, chieftains known as "teachers" and "union leaders" are attempting to mirror the Italians' highly effective methods of enacting "social justice."
The offending act of the governor is his backing of three ballot initiatives that call for imposing a cap on state spending, stripping lawmakers of the power to draw their own districts and increasing the time it takes teachers to gain tenure.
Unfortunately, teachers in California are so incompetent that they can't get jobs in other fields or industries. They're forced to teach. Their livelihoods are dependent upon how much the government will pay them, and how quickly it will do so. Therefore, they see any proposal that limits their ability to quickly and effectively soak up tax dollars as an offense against humanity.
Currently, about half of California's budget, or $50 billion of $100 billion dollars, is consumed by education in the state. That's more than the entire operating budget of each of the forty-nine other states, including New York.
Obviously, it's not enough. As Peter Schrag wrote for the Sacramento Bee, "Given California's substandard school funding, the Democrats' soak-the-rich tax increase proposal for education is amply justified and easily affordable for people who've just gotten the biggest federal tax cuts in history."
Another article, written by Raj Jayadev for AlterNet, reported on the actions of protesters at one demonstration: "First in Spanish, then in English to accommodate non-Hispanic union members, [protestors] stood shoulder to shoulder, chanting to the governor, 'Nobody likes you!' It's a line usually aimed at the school bully; in this case, it was aimed at California's governor."
Evidently, the union members and teachers who lead these demonstrations are no more mature than school-aged children who taunt each other. And it's a fact they tout with pride.
What are students getting out of all California's current funding, anyway? According to data from 2004, less than half of California students are proficient in English-language arts or math. Just 30% of third-graders were proficient in English, down 3 points from 2003. Only 35% of sixth-graders were proficient in math, up 1 point from 2003.
Tenth-graders in 2004 also took the state's high school exit exam of English and math, a graduation requirement for the class of 2006. Seventy-five percent of them passed the English portion and 74% passed the math. (Why the astounding success, you may ask? It's because the test only covers up to 8th grade math and 10th grade English. Thankfully for the 26% who did not pass the exam, students who fail the first time have five more chances to pass between their sophomore and senior years.)
For the good job they're doing, teachers expect more. In St. Helena, for example, teachers are demanding a 6 percent salary increase in 2005-06. The district is only offering 2.5 percent, plus the possibility of another 2 percent.
California is proving what we already know; there is no correlation between funding and output. Paying teachers more "because they deserve it" is not an incentive to become more effective at their jobs.
Of course, incompetent teachers can't account for the entire problem. More than 1.3 million students had to take the annual administration of the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) in 2004. Only 47% of those who took it passed. That may not sound very good, but considering only 25% passed in 2001, it's a great success by the standards of California's educational bureaucracy. Foreigners who don't speak English and other such minor issues can be seen as complementing the educational dilemma.
California taxpayers have been markedly generous to their failed education establishment. Until someone gets around to actually making it work, it doesn't deserve more funding. One should never expect Californians to make good decisions regarding government, of course; but their schools will continue to serve as an example of socialist idealism at its worst.
Rudy Takala is 16 years old and lives in Minnesota. He was homeschooled for nine years, and currently attends a local community college full time.
His columns regularly appear on a number of websites, including NewsWithViews.com, TheConservativeVoice.com, TheRant.us, RenewAmerica.us, MensNewsDaily.com, NationalLedger.com, OpinionEditorials.com, MichNews.com, SierraTimes.com, WebCommentary.com, ChronWatch.com, ConservativeNest.com, The Daley Times Post, ParentAdvocates.org, Publius' Forum, PoliticalUsa.com, RepublicanAndProud.com, RightSided.org, StarrJournal.com, OpinioNet.com, Out2.com, RadiofreeWestHartford.com, and YConservatives.com. Newspapers he's written for or appears in regularly include The North Carolina Conservative, The Recumbent, and The American Eagle.
Rudy hopes for a career in which he is able to continue antagonizing proponents of the State. Currently, he spends his free time laboring over a book concerning the American government's school system.
He maintains a blog at http://www.mensnewsdaily.com/blog/takala and can be contacted at RudyTakala@Yahoo.com.
© Copyright 2005 by Rudy Takala