Governor’s attack on education and teachers

Dear Editor,

In Gov. Schwarzenegger’s State of the State speech, he mentioned that education is getting $50 billion each year… $50 billion … he said it four times. His emphasis echoed his assistant’s comments earlier this week concerning what California is getting for the money it is putting into education.

If you noticed, the governor was conspicuously quiet about the recently released Rand Report (258 pages of easy reading) concerning California education. Could it be that he would be the “Embarrassed Governor of California” with the findings, and wanted to change his attack focus?

The Governor’s Absent Rand Report sadly mentions these head-shaking data:

1. Teacher salaries, adjusted for purchasing power, are last compared to the five largest comparable states, and 32nd nationwide.

2. When adjusted for inflation, teacher salaries are the same as in 1969-70.

3. California ranks well below the national average in its “effort” to pay for education when it has a high capacity to fund education at much higher levels.

4. Proposition 98, which guarantees education funding, should be a floor ($53 billion) and not a ceiling.

5. One in five school children live in poverty.

6. California has the second highest pupil-to-teacher ratio in the country.

7. While police/fire protection and corrections rank 4th and 11th respectively, education per capita funding ranks 30th.

8. California schools have the fewest number of librarians and counselors in the nation.

No politician wants to wear these data around his neck, but for the governor to change the focus and state that merit pay and tenure are somehow conjoined is like saying 9/11 and invading Iraq were connected. The California Education Code has provisions determining how teachers are to be hired and fired, and as far as I can tell, we are still a country of laws.

Boards of Education hire superintendents who hire school site administrators. Site administrators know the evaluation procedures, and all they need to do is follow the law in removing ineffective teachers. Teacher special interest groups don’t hire and fire ineffective teachers, districts do. Unfortunately, the governor made the wrong but politically expedient decision to go after the teacher special interests rather than going after school boards and the education funding process.

As the Rand Report succinctly states, and what has been said for years by those wacko education special interests, you can’t get quality education unless you put quality funding in place. Forty-eighth in funding will get you 48th results. Wear that on your lapel governor, and let’s see what type of comments you get at the annual governor’s convention.

Dale Morejón, Gilroy

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