Thursday, February 10, 2011

California: Tops in Advanced Placement, Teacher Abuse

California spends 20% less on education per pupil than the national average, ranking 47th in education spending. Yet more students in California are taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams and more low income students are passing them than in most other states, according to a new report. And the numbers in California have been improving. In 2006, 28.6% of California seniors took one or more AP exams, 27% of whom were low income. Last year, 34% seniors took one or more AP exams, 35% of whom were low income. Nationally, only 21% of low income seniors took an AP test last year.

The first thing that should strike people from this data is that California schools are improving, not getting worse. We have set high expectations for our students and more of them are meeting these expectations. All the hoopla over deteriorating schools and incompetent teachers is a delusion, a bogeyman to justify privatization schemes, not a solution to a real problem. Sadly, these statistics are unlikely to get the Ed Deformers to back off.

Anti-taxation activists might look at this data and say, “We’re getting better results with less money. Our policies are working. Let’s continue to underfund schools.” When examined through a business lens, it appears California is getting greater productivity from its education workers than other states. However, a more honest way to parse this is that teachers, being committed to their students’ wellbeing, are allowing themselves to be squeezed for the sake of their students, working harder and longer despite wage and benefit cuts, furloughs, and overall compensation stagnation over the past three years.

Rather than being proud of this or encouraging it, we should be ashamed and fighting to reverse this trend. Not only is it abusive (or more abusive than in the past), it is not sustainable. More and more teachers are getting out of the profession and fewer are interested in becoming teachers because of the declining conditions and pay, while those who continue to teach are becoming burned out and will eventually max out their productivity or even resist and undermine the increasing demands.

1 comment:

  1. I am a parent and strong education advocate in the Fremont Unified School District (Fremont, CA). I occasionally blog on The Daily Kos; as well as some other local blogs for children and education. I am writing today as a representative of Save Our Schools March ( ) to ask you on Monday, February 14 to write something about why you love education and possibly include a link to our march and rally in DC this July. One of the leaders in this organization is also a Bay Area teacher, Anthony Cody in Oakland, CA.

    The message we want to get out to as many people on Valentine’s Day is that everyone who cares about young people also cares about our schools. Our best schools nurture our children; make them feel safe and able to take the risks they need to in order to learn. But our schools are in danger of becoming even more narrowly focused on test preparation; while class sizes rise and teachers are blamed for the ravages poverty inflicts on their students.

    We are responding. We love our schools. We declare Valentine’s Day, 2011, to be I Love Public Education Blog Day. On this day we will write our hearts out, about why it is that public education is so important to us, our children, and our democratic society. If you or your readers will join us and tell why you love public education too, send your comments and posts to Writing will be displayed at the website, and will be tweeted with the hashtag #LovePublicEd. We offer the march and events of July 28 to 31st in Washington, DC, as a focal point for this movement, and we ask participants to link to this event, so we can build momentum for our efforts. If your readers wish to repeat this post on their own blog, we would love it. We would love if you could use our graphic to indicate that this is part of our campaign.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at .