Monday, April 18, 2005
IN MY OPINION (Column)
Itís Still a Mess
By RAY HAYNES
(The writer represents the 66th Assembly District which includes portions of western Riverside County and northern San Diego County.)
In the next several weeks, newspapers will write a number of stories on recent efforts of the education establishment to change the law on the exit exam. For those who donít know, the exit exam is the real education reform to come out of the Davis years in the capitol, and its purpose is to make sure that high school students actually have a high school education before they graduate from high school.
Every high school student this year will be required to pass the high school exit exam, which tests whether that student can demonstrate a ninth grade level of competence in core subject areas. Unfortunately, about 40† percent of the high school students who are attempting to graduate this year have failed the exam.
Itís not like this was any great surprise. The Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, the bill requiring the exit exam in 1999, and said that it would take effect in 2005. That gave the education establishment 6 years to prepare. In addition, in 2000, the state started administering the test, and found that 80 per cent of the students could not pass it. That means, in 2000, four-fifths of the students who graduated from high school did not have a ninth grade education, according to the standards in place then.
The Davis administration, and then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, responded quickly by changing how the test was graded to make it easier to pass. In other words, instead of holding the education establishment responsible for their monumental failure, the state, through Davis and Eastin, made it easier to hide the failure. They then dumped billions of dollars more into the system.
Now, with the easier test, only 40 per cent of the children are failing. Can you imagine what the Democrats would do if almost half of the cars that GM produced were defective? The trial lawyers would have a field day in court; there would be legislative hearings, press conferences, and shoe pounding on the tables of the Legislature on a daily basis. So-how are the Democrats responding to the abject failure of the education establishment? They are trying to remove the requirement that children pass an exit exam.
The purpose of the exit exam is not to punish the children who are in the education system. Its purpose is to make sure that the adults are doing their jobs. If children are not learning, it is not the childís fault, it is the fault of the teachers, principals, administrators, and school boards who are letting that child move along without learning basic skills. Since the union spends most of its time and money making sure that bad teachers donít get fired, it is appropriate to blame it for the current failures in the system.
These groups want money without responsibility. Donít hold us accountable, their commercials say, just give us more money. When the Governor said we are going to pay good teachers more than bad teachers and no guaranteed jobs for bad teachers, the unions started running commercials calling the Governor heartless, and demanding more money. Now they are trying to hide the whole reason for the Governorís actions-that is-they are doing a bad job, as evidenced by the exit exam results.
They are shameless. The system is a mess and a failure, and they continue to justify that failure so that they can make money off of it without accountability. All the while, our children are suffering.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company