Saturday, January 28, 2017

My Word: Schools lagging, we need California Dreaming again

My Word: Schools lagging, we need California Dreaming again:

Education lags, time for California Dreaming again
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The education and care of our children should be the most important work of any generation. My parents and grandparents, who withstood the Great Depression and World War II, came out of those experiences with a commitment to education and a generosity toward children that made a remarkable difference and contributed to achieving the promise of California greatness.
My heart aches to see how California has failed in its recent commitment to education. I ask my fellow Californians, what do we need to do in California to advance the education of our children?
The investment in education in the Golden State is dismal. While many in Sacramento are patting themselves on the back for the increase in investment, we remain in the bottom 10 of the 50 states in our investment in education adjusted for our cost of living (while our per prisoner investment continues to be in the top 10).
The current budget proposed by the governor does not include promised reinvestment in preschool and reduces promised funding for education, despite the distinct message sent by the voters with the passage of Propositions 51 and 55. We can and must do better.
A recent study from Education Week gave California a D+ in K-12 achievement and school finance. These areas are connected. The lack of investment in California over the last three decades is stunning. If Proposition 55 had not passed, we would have dropped back to the very bottom in per-pupil investment in this very expensive state with the largest number of poor children and the highest percentage of English learners.
We need some heroes in Sacramento to stand up for the heroes in our schools. When I speak of heroes, I am speaking of people who lead our schools and who are our librarians, custodians, nurses, counselors and aides.
In a great civilization, cities, counties and schools are institutional incubators of human potential. In every sense of the word, our job is to create institutional incubators of human potential in our democracy.  That means treating the education of our children as the most important work we as Californians can do. We must increase our investment in preschool.
We must make kindergarten mandatory and full day. We must reduce class sizes across the board, especially in elementary education. We must make technology accessible to every student. Our curriculum must place more emphasis on science, history, art, music, drama and physical education. Reading and math are important but not to the exclusion of other subjects.
In the end, as I have said for decades, budgets are statements of values. If you look at our California budget, from preschool to graduate school, or speak to a teacher or step into one of the under-resourced classrooms in many districts around our state, you will be alarmed and distressed.
The governor of New York called for higher education without debt. We had that in California after World War II. Why not do that again? When we were tied for per-pupil spending with New York we were in the top 10 in achievement and investment. Now New York spends more than twice per student what California spends, and California’s achievement has dropped commensurately.
Let us invest in education from preschool to grad school. And then, as the next Silicon Valley is born in California, we can keep California dreaming.
Delaine Eastin is the former California superintendent of public instruction. My Word: Schools lagging, we need California Dreaming again:
California Gov. Jerry Brown gestures to a chart showing that budget deficits usually follow balanced state budgets as he discusses his 2017-2018 spending plan at a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)


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