What Do YOU Think: Is ALL Our Children Learning?

“We can be pleased that gains in student achievement made over the past years are either increasing or holding steady,” said state Superintendent Jack O’Connell. “This progress means that hundreds of thousands of California students will have a better shot at success.”

Judging by what Jack O’Connell said to The Register about the overall improvement of standardized test scores for our kids in California public schools, it seems like everything is going great. And especially here in Orange County, where kids on average improved 2 to 4 percentage points on their test scores. And since this is the fifth year in a row that test scores have improved at OC schools, it seems like everything is all right. Right?

Maybe not. After all, not everyone is doing all that well. Look at the schools where a vast majority of kids are proficient at Math and English, and look at the schools where most kids are not at proficient levels. See a pattern? While the wealthier districts are doing great, schools in poorer areas are still not up to par. Do YOU know what’s wrong with this achievement gap between “rich schools” and “poor schools”?

I want to know what you think about this achievement gap, and how you think we should fill it in. Do “poor schools” need more money? Do they need more attention? Do they need better teachers? What can we do to make sure that all of our kids get the quality education that they deserve?

So go ahead. Make my day. Fire away! :-)

  4 comments for “What Do YOU Think: Is ALL Our Children Learning?

  1. Dan Chmielewski
    August 16, 2007 at 8:54 am

    Andrew, Irvine Unified, where my kids go, is one of the lowest funded districts in the state; we are well below state average and among the lowest funded districts in the county (great job Rep. DeVore). Yet, test scores are out of sight.

    Parents in Irvine have extraordinary fundraising efforts underway that help pay for a number of programs that lack funds. This amounts to a tax on parents who do all the things parents are supposed to do to be involved with their children’s education.

    NCLB doesn’t really educate because its all about helping kids learn stratgies that help them pas a test and does virtually nothing to foster criticial thinking skills.

    I’m pleased that student opften know the correct answer; I just wish they really understood why it was the correct answer. And for my Republican friends who want to advocate a voucher system to send thir kids to private school, go ahead. There is nothing stopping you. Just don’t epxect the state to pay for it.

  2. Andrew Davey
    August 16, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Dan-

    Right, right, right! You made plenty of good points here. Still, I do want to add something that you may have missed. There is a reason WHY Irvine parents can afford fundraisers for the schools. Most neighborhoods in IUSD are of a higher socio-economic status than, say, SAUSD (Santa Ana) and AUHSD (Anaheim Union High). Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the fact that Irvine parents are stepping up to the plate to take care of their kids’ education. I’m just wondering how this can happen in my district in Santa Ana, where many residents here can’t afford to do stuff like school fundraisers. How can we help in places like Santa Ana and Anaheim?

    Oh yes, and good point on NCLB. Howard Dean really spoke the truth in 2003, when he said that it should really be called “No School Board Left Standing”. So much for “conservatives” not wanting “big federal guv’mint” intruding on local matters… ;-)

  3. Flowerszzz
    August 16, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Andrew – it does not matter what demographic you are or what your wealth status is…..you can and should be involved in your childrens education. It is, IMO, the MOST important job as a parent. My kids go to school in a great neighborhood but we are not near as wealthy as MOST of the parents. And I can tell you that even rich kids….when their parents are not involved….fail school and get into trouble as well.

  4. Concerned Citizen
    August 16, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    I am a public school teacher and am bitterly disappointed in Mr. O’Connell’s defense of standardized testing in California which, by the way, predated NCLB. Under his stewardship, the discussion has been focused on the “achievement gap” in reading and math. What most of the public doesn’t realize is that the real gap is in access to a broad curriculum which low income, high minority students are being deprived . Schools are increasingly aligning curriculum to what is tested and since math and reading are what matters in the testing world, those two subjects have crowded everything else out including science, social studies, visual and performing arts, health and PE. Important issues like global warming, the war on terror, genetics are not in California’s content standards so will never be tested. Mr. O’Connell is fully aware of these shortcomings in the system and yet does nothing to inform the public or change the testing paradigm. In response to some of your questions about how SAUSD and AUHSD could respond, how about making the curriculum more relevant and interesting? Whatever happened to critical thinking and inquiry? I know that we can teach the basics through a broad curriculum that will inspire and interest students who, under the shackles of NCLB and self-serving leaders like Mr. O’Connell, are increasingly becoming disenchanted, disconnected, and ready to sign up for something exciting like a tour of duty in Iraq.

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