Posted by Gunther Steinberg, a resident of the Portola Valley: Ladera neighborhood, on May 10, 2010 at 2:17 pm
I do not think that California K-12 school have ever been top notch.
In 1940 I skipped a grade coming from NY (With Regents Exams) to Los Angeles. Little was demanded of students. The number of students who had to take remedial English even in 1945 was appalling. Coordination between departments at UCLA was a joke - calculus and physics, which depend on each other made no attempt (1945-48). In 2008, there was an article in the UCLA magazine that they were working to make coordination between related subjects in different departments a reality. That is 60+ years later without intelligent planning.
The keys to good K-12 schooling are good teachers, parents who participate and supplement the schools efforts at home. Money thrown at schools does little, though starving them is much worse. - One problem with teachers unions is that it is very difficult to fire very poor teachers.
Perhaps most telling is the source for most teachers in the US vs that in Finland, where education scores very high. The Finnish teachers come from the top of the classes at University. Not so in the US. Teacher's pay should dependent on the quality of the teacher, not necessarily on "seniority".
When students get to university in California, they find out how deficient their education has been, how little was demanded of them.
The well educated man/woman is little valued in most businesses.