Metropolitan News-Enterprise

 

Monday, November 28, 2005

 

Page 7

 

IN MY OPINION (Column)

Educationís Newest Outrage

 

By RAY HAYNES

 

(The writer represents the 66th Assembly District which includes portions of western Riverside County and northern San Diego County.)

 

Call me a cynic, but I think the educrats plan it this way. They wait for challenges to pass, like Propositions 74 and 75, and then when they win, they literally spit in the voterís face. The latest outrage ó the effort of these educrats to avoid any accountability for doing their job.

By way of background, in 1999, in his first year as Governor, Gray Davis passed a milquetoast education package, intended to improve our schools. He also proposed a high school exit exam, a final test which would determine if the school district had actually done its job - that is ó whether the student could actually read the diploma the school was issuing.

Students can take it each year in high school, and only have to pass it once, but they have to pass it to get their diploma. Testing has always been about evaluating the adults who make money off of the education system, not about evaluating the students. If the adults were failing at their jobs, the students would be failing the tests.

And guess what ó those students were failing. Although every other part of the Davis program was watered down by the power of the educrats in Sacramento, the high school exit exam survived intact. It remains as the only meaningful tool in the 1999 Davis reforms. And now it is a constant target of those educrats. From the day it was passed, they have tried every trick in the book to avoid the consequences of a meaningful exam.

The test was supposed to be a rigorous test of basic skills. Over 80 per cent of the students who took the exam failed when it was first administered, so the educrats panicked. Rather than change their behavior, or actually do their job, they convinced the Davis administration to lower the score necessary to pass the test. Now only forty per cent of the students who take the test fail.

That still didnít satisfy the educrats. Every year since 2001, they have tried to eliminate the test. Failing that, they have succeeded in delaying the implementation of the test. It was supposed to go into effect in 2004, they delayed it to 2006. Now it is taking effect, and twenty per cent of the high school seniors may not graduate next June, because they have yet to pass the test. The failure of our school system will become clear next year, and the educrats are afraid their failure will be exposed.

So now they have pulled out their latest trick. They think they have found a loophole. Some community college districts, primarily Los Angeles and San Francisco (who have the largest proportions of failing students) think they can issue a diploma to a high school student without the requirement of the exit exam.

The fact that the law required every high school student to pass the exam before they got a diploma, no matter who issued the diploma, is lost on them. They think they can bail out the K-12 system by issuing the diplomas themselves. They are becoming co-conspirators in the criminal negligence of the worst performing school districts in the state.

It is an outrage. The only losers are the students. If the failure of the K-12 system was actually exposed by the high school exit exam, the system would have to change, and actually teach the children how to read and write. The diploma ought to mean something, and the exit exam would give it some meaning.

But this is about money, not accountability. Parents might actually ask that someone lose their job for their childrenís failure. We canít have that. We have to hide the failure.

So the educrats are covering for each other. It is an outrage that cannot be allowed to stand.

 

Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company