March 09, 2008

Education in Crisis: Part I

This article was forwarded from a concerned reader. He writes: “I guess someone in California is pissed off that the winner of state Spelling Bee competition is always a home schooled pupil.” I think the problem runs deeper than that. California has declared a war of sorts on parents who choose to home-school their children saying that the children must be trained by a state licensed instructor. While at the same time they are abandoning a large segment of students already in the public system.

San Francisco: A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution…
"California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. "Parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling under the
provisions of these laws." Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.
"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue…
The ruling was applauded by a director for the state's largest teachers union.
"We're happy," said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. "We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting."

Of course the Teachers Union was ecstatic with the ruling, eyeing an opportunity to get their hooks into a new source of fertile young minds, but when some California districts have 30% to 50 % of the kids leaving school at some point after ninth grade without earning a diploma their concerns seem seriously misplaced. Except that failing kids leaving the system helps schools meet performance guidlines under No Child Left Behind.

LA TIMES: CALIFORNIA'S CHILDREN are abandoning school at the rate of about 150,000 a year — a number equivalent to the population of Torrance, or Irvine, or all of Imperial County. Fewer than 70% of ninth-graders statewide will graduate from high school, and in some districts the percentage drops to less than half. Shockingly, this is not particularly a problem for schools, which are ranked primarily on their test scores. If marginal students leave, it only helps their averages.The result is a calamity in education that has almost no effect on schools, and that paradoxically has allowed schools to remain on the margins of a public debate about how to keep kids in the classroom. Fortunately, the Legislature is taking note.

Legislators are taking note and road they are taking education down should scare everyone that has children in the system or anyone that cares about educations role in building ":citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation" as Judge Croskey stated above. This affects education not only in California but in the United States as a whole. Next time I will take a look at how the education system is being co-opted.

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