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California State Government June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

Educational Reform in California

By Grant McMicken

Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This information is provided by the candidate
Educational reform today is exactly what it was in the 1950's, California needs a change in leadership.
Educational Reform in California

In my opinion, the past three and one-half years the direction of the California Department of Education has not brought reform to the California K-12 public school system; it has brought a continuation of the single minded idea that every student in California must go to a four year college. This idea has been wrongly promoted in education since the launch of Sputnik in 1957. The United States won the race to space on July 20, 1969. When the race began in 1957, California public education was at the top of the educational pyramid; California was "Second to None."

Today California public schools are "Second to Last." The philosophy of our schools is still that every child is capable of, wants to, and should attend college. This single mindedness meets the needs of about 40% of high school graduates (though 25% of those do not graduate from college); another 30% or more, depending on the location in California, drop-out of high school; and the remainder are not prepared in any manner for the world which they are about to face.

The legislation for the CAHSEE became law in 1999. I do not believe passing the CAHSEE "shows that students are acquiring the necessary knowledge and our high schools are focused on making sure students who graduate have the essential mathematics and English-language skills they will need to survive in the workplace or college." The fallacy of this statement is that high school graduates with minimal English language (10th grade equivalency) and arithmetic skills ( 7th-8th grade proficiency) are not ready for "the global economy of the 21st century." This statement is directed at high school graduates. What are the 30% or more (students) that drop-out of high school prepared for? Crime, jail, minimal paying jobs, . . .?

When the CAHSEE was temporarily halted, it was said "That's a lost opportunity to hold students accountable, push the system." Holding students accountable should not be put off until their high school years, by a single test. Accountability should begin in the primary grades. When a student is not reading, writing, or demonstrating number skills as prescribed for any particular grade level, the student should be given remediation. If remediation fails, the student should be retained, not socially promoted to the next grade level, becoming further behind grade level standards. If the system is to be pushed, then it should be pushed to help children in the primary grades, not after they have learned to play the system, plagiarizing work, or learn to cheat their way through school.

Recalculation of achievement target goals is not a solution to decreasing the achievement gap for students in racial and economic subgroups.

The achievement gap and the high drop-out rate are related problems. Both these issues can be addressed by creating courses of study in Career Technical Education (CTE) and vocational skills training. The 2006 legislation package sponsored by CDE addresses this issue with AB1896 (Coto), which provides for a two-track course of study and exempts districts from legal obligation to provide CTE curriculum. This is not educational reform, but just another way to continue the single minded ideas of the past 50 years.

It is time for educational reform in California. The reform can not be guised in academic standards meeting the needs of only 30-40% of our children, but must address the needs of all children. Curriculum, frameworks and academic standards for both the college and workforce bound student must be implemented. The California K-12 public school system needs to progress from a system meeting the needs of the 1950's to a 21st century educational system.

Grant McMicken

Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

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ca/state Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 29, 2006 20:07
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