While I try to stay as neutral as possible on WestchesterParents there are times when I have to call people out when they offer a policy plan that flies in the face in reality. Particularly in the case of education which I often write about and especially when it comes from a candidate for governor who is proposing what he will do over the next four years. This is one of those times.
Candidate for California governor, Jerry Brown came out today with a campaign press release aimed at education that is frankly dishonest and contains proposals that are written as if he were closeted away in a monastery for the last twenty years. You can find his plan here:
In his plan he makes a number of claims that I’ll list below. Each one of them I follow up with data that disproves the claim.
Claim 1 – “Despite the fact that many students (at Oakland Military, a school Jerry Brown claims to have started in Oakland as Mayor) come from low income families (80% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches), this year 25% of our graduates were accepted to the University of California system. In prior years, graduates have been admitted to such prestigious schools as West Point and Yale.”
It wasn’t until the 2004/05 that year the Oakland Military Charter began reporting enrollment data to the California Department of Education (CDE) and only two full years of enrollment data is available to report.
Brown claims that 25% of grads were accepted into the UC system but the raw numbers paint an entirely different picture that is easily hidden behind ‘percentages.’
The first full graduating class that matriculated through grades 9-12 at Oakland Military was the class of 2008 just two years ago. This class reported to the CDE a 43.68 percent drop in enrollment from 87 freshman that began 2004 to 49 seniors that reported back in 2007.
The Class of 2009 saw a larger drop with 81 freshman enrolled in 2005 and saw only 42 students report in their senior year which represented a 48.15% loss of enrollment.
While data from two graduating classes alone are hardly enough to hang your accolades on, a 48% drop in enrollment of which 25% (10 students) went on to a UC or UCS school is terrible. And did they really go on to a UC/CSU school or did the outgoing students simply state that they were going there prior to graduating?
Claim 2 – “I also started the Oakland School for the Arts, which is devoted to intensive pre-professional training in the arts within a college-preparatory curriculum. The school, going into its 9th year, is audition based and also serves 600 students from 6th through 12th grade.”
Oakland Arts began reporting enrollment to the CDE back in 2002 and its first class to matriculate from 9th to 12th was the class of 2006. This class began with 102 freshman and ended up with only 61 seniors, a 40 percent loss. The most recent class of 2009 began with 88 freshman students and saw only 45 students reporting for the senior year for a 49 percent loss. Just as disconcerting is the drop in freshman students reporting in 2006, 2007 and 2008 where the number of incoming students fell to 58, 26 and 77 students. Oakland Arts current enrollment is just 408 students and its highest level was in 2005 with 421 which is a third less than the 600 students that candidate Brown claims.
Claim 3 – “Both schools charge no tuition and are among the top-performing schools in Oakland.”
This claim is simply filler. Charters by state law cannot charge tuition. They are public schools receiving public funding to operate. As for top-performing, see claims 1 & 2 and judge for yourself how well they perform.
Claim 4 – “From my experience in starting and running these schools, I have gained first-hand experience in how difficult it is to enable all students to be ready for college and careers. Student outcomes are a complex interaction of student characteristics, teacher competence, instructional materials, and parental support. Any reforms and state educational policies must take into account this complexity and refrain from oversimplifying the problems and solutions.”
Brown has neither first hand experience nor any solution to enable “all students to be ready for college and careers.” His managing the schools above aptly point that out.
With a 48% loss in class enrollment, Brown hasn’t had any more success in managing the ”complex interaction of student characteristics, teacher competence, instructional materials, and parental support” that he claims to have.
Jerry Brown then went on to state what he will do but his proposals are nothing new. They follow the same path that California has followed since the 1990′s and will simply make things worse.
Brown begins by saying he will “Establish(ed) Minimum Requirements for High School Graduates.” However the State of California already has minimum requirements in place. In fact in 1999 California had raised the bar and instituted a more rigorous college preparation curriculum “for all students.”
This however has had the unintended consequence of exponentially raising the drop out rate and placing diplomas out of reach for many students throughout the state.
Brown proposes raising the graduation requirement even further than it is today!
Considering that it is the math portion of the state curriculum and CAHSE that has proven to be so difficult to pass, his proposal to add another year of math will most assuredly raise the dropout rate to well over 40 percent.
Certainly these students (Ferris Buellers Day Off) would not be very impressed with Jerry Brown’s proposals.
Brown goes on to say that he will “Significantly increased investment in K-12 and Higher Education” but education today has already consumed 40 percent of the California budget.
Most of Browns other proposals are related to funding as if to explain that California’s problems with its education system have to do with underfunding. Funding is not the problem. Throwing more money at schools is not the answer. The problem is how to make education relevant to California’s students. The answer is to offer a variety of paths towards a diploma.
Note to our readers: To date I have not yet seen candidate Meg Whitman’s education plan if she has submitted one. When she does submit one I’ll comment on it as well.