Tuesday, October 01, 2002

In an article from today's L.A. Daily News, it was reported that only 45 percent of Los Angeles public schools' high-school students passed the English-language arts section while only 21 percent passed the math section of California's graduation exam.

What does Superintendent Roy Romer propose to fix this problem? You guess it: more public school! Romer proposes adding a 13th year of school and extending the school day for those students not passing the graduation test. What wonderful logic. Give students more of what already didn't work and magically the problem will be solved. Maybe I can start a government program that cures alcoholics by force feeding them beer.

What's even more amazing are the some the actual quotes from the story, which outright state Los Angeles public schools are a failure and these results should be expected. Here are two quotes in the article from Romer himself:

"What we see here is obviously disappointing results of 10 years of failure of urban districts. We know that. It's no surprise to us."

"We have a system in which the culture has been, Give them a D and pass."

Wow! The head of the Los Angeles public schools is publicly saying that the district is a failure, he isn't surprised how poorly these students did on the exam, and that the fundamental culture of the school system is to simply pass on uneducated kids.

But the best quote comes from Chatsworth High Principal Dan Wyatt who says, "There will be some in every school who won't pass the test and thus won't graduate. I think once the state Legislature sees what the statewide results are, there might be a revision on the test." That's right. The problem can be fixed by rewriting the test, not by educating the students.

We keep hearing the problem is not enough funding. This clearly isn't a funding issue. Taxpayers will be throwing more good money at bad money. Taxpayers are already paying for after-school tutoring and an "intense English-intervention program." Now the taxpayers are going to be asked to fund an additional year of education which costs approximately $10,000, and remedial classes taught in summer, in the evening, or on weekends. And the remedial math classes are taught at the seventh-grade level for students expected to graduate high school.

Americans need to understand that the government is incapable of educating children. Only when the free market delivers education will the American educational system be accountable to students and parents. And the free market unencumbered by government regulation would be able to provide high-quality educational choices at affordable prices. Be sure to check out The Alliance for the Separation of School & State

Here's the Los Angeles Times' take on the story. Of course, the Times took the racial inequities spin that says more resources have to be spent on "poor students and students of color."

UPDATE: Kimberly Swygert discusses more California testing follies (scroll down a little) in her critique of a San Francisco Chronicle article that mentions 90% of "disabled" kids are flunking the California graduation exam. Of course, a hot-shot lawyer is suing the state on behalf of California's 173,470 disabled high school students, because the fact that so many "disabled" kids failed the exam is a "disaster in the making."

UPDATE 2: Michael Lopez comments on the L.A. Times article on his blog, Highered Intelligence. Michael's comments are about the much more fundamental problem of people being entitled to high school diplomas, which effectively makes high school diplomas devoid of meaning and accomplishment.