Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Close the Budget Gap--Abolish High School Exit Exam (and NCLB and CCS)

Stephen Krashin may not be able to close the entire $28 billion California budget deficit, but his suggestion that we do away with CAHSEE is an excellent start. You can read his complete editorial to SF Examiner by clicking on the link. I’ve included an excerpt below:

“Here’s how we can save another half-billion: Eliminate the high school exit examination. Analyst Jo Ann Behm has estimated that the combined state and local costs of California’s test exceed $500 million per year.The most recent review of research on exit exams, done by researchers at the University of Texas, concluded that high school exit exams do not lead to more college attendance, increased student learning or higher employment. In fact, researchers have yet to discover any benefits of having a high school exit exam.”

Here Are Some Other Quick Fixes for California's Budget Woes:


  1. Has there been any discussion of switching to a single-payer health care system in CA? I heard some economists discussing this on a NYS radio show, in relation to the NY budget deficit crisis, and they were in agreement that NY's deficit could literally be eliminated overnight by making this change to health care. In fact, the savings would be something like $20 billion annually!! The interviewer asked, "Are Albany politicians giving this idea some serious consideration?" Answer: No, because they say it would hurt insurance companies. Just curious if that's been discussed as a major cost savings possibility there as well, and if it's been rejected for the same reason.

  2. Yes, there has been discussion and even attempts to get a ballot initiative. However, the insurance companies have thwarted it here, as elsewhere.

    The unions have mostly been asleep at the wheel on this, which is terrible, considering that with premiums increasing by 15-30% annually, teachers are unlikely to ever see a raise again, or see their raises eaten up by increasing out of pocket costs for their insurance.

    My response to the insurers: Eat me. They are all parasites. Let them all whither away. We're better without them.

  3. If enough people are forced to drop their health insurance, that will hurt the insurance companies too. I know I would have to seriously look at doing that, depending on how much more I'd have to pay toward my premiums. There are few luxuries to do away with, after all, and I KNOW I'm not alone in that regard! I only hope I won't then be fined by Obama for not being able to afford insurance!

    There has to be a way of getting this problem into the public eye - I honestly don't think many people realize that health insurance companies are one of the biggest obstacles to any kind of economic recovery.

  4. Thanks, Isabelle.

    The only way the insurance companies will be hurt is if people vote insurance out of their contracts and risk the fines by not buying it on the open market. This is a pretty unlikely scenario.

    I think a more realistic approach would be organizing and educating all workers in all industries about how much private insurance, even employer paid, actually harms their income and standard of living (and their long-term overall health). Then we start mobilizing for a single payer system that covers everyone fully.

    People need to realize that higher taxes are not bad, so long as those taxes are used for programs that benefit them and if their income will rise as a consequence, as it should, if health is removed from their compensation.

  5. Another related issue is how do the insurance industry, and our economy, affect our overall health.

    We have among the lowest life expectancies and highest infant mortality rates of all industrialized nations. This is due in part to the fact that so many of us are either uninsured or underinsured, and partly to the limitations insurance companies place on our treatment.

    Much more significant are the high levels of poverty and economic and boss induced stress, especially for low wage workers. Check out Unnatural Causes, a NOVA series on the socioeconomic health gap. It is even more dramatic than the economic academic achievement gap. The higher the income, the longer the life expectancy and the lower the rates of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. And its a linear relationship. Middle class people have better health outcomes than working class folks, who have better health outcomes than those living in poverty. The rich, of course, have the best health of all.