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Basic changes needed to fix schools, Assembly candidates agree at Saturday forum

Original post made on May 10, 2010

Basic changes are needed to fix California's ailing K-12 education system, Democrats vying to succeed Ira Ruskin in the state Assembly agreed Saturday in a public forum.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 10, 2010, 10:21 AM

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Posted by Peter Caryotakis
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on May 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I am hoping that the candidates will do their best to rearrange the state testing so that it makes academic sense. Split the state tests and make them part of the winter and spring finals for the courses so that it matters to the kids how they do. Make the tests better by giving students five options instead of just four. Ensure that each classroom being tested has two truly different forms of the test. Since different schools will be taking the tests at different times, the testing companies will have to make many different forms with the same kinds of questions. Parents and students will not have to wait months for results. This is just the beginning of a list that would help save public schools more than a week of teaching during the year. It would be nice if the tests that students were required to take were actually related to the subject in which they were enrolled. These are simple logical ideas, that currently aren't even close to the reality. Public schools currently waste at least a week in testing that private schools do not have to do. Time is wasted in the middle of the course, before the year is completed, to review instead of reviewing just once at the end of the course. This is even worse if the test is not related to the course and concepts from previous years have to be remastered. Everyone is falling all over themselves about these tests. I'm sorry, but these tests are as naked as the politicians who think they are an honest way to test California's students. It isn't that I'm afraid to test my students, but can we do it in a way that makes some academic sense? If the politicians don't have the power to change the testing, then something has seriously gone wrong.

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Posted by Gunther Steinberg
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
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.

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