Wednesday, May 10, 2006


California has a test that all High School graduates must pass to get their diploma. This high school exit exam was challenged in court by Aurtuor Gonzales, on behalf of a group of students from Richmond High School. Gonzalez filed a complaint arguing that "the state failed to provide students - particularly English learners and those from low-income areas - with the necessary education to pass the test."

Joanne Jacobs notes on her education blog that:

In California, a Superior Court judge said he's likely to rule the state can't deny diplomas to students who've failed to pass the graduation exam because not all students have equal access to qualified teachers or a curriculum linked to state standards.

The Contra Costa Times reports:
Dealing a potential blow to California's high school exit exam, an Alameda County judge tentatively ruled late Monday that the state cannot deny diplomas in June to seniors who fail the test but otherwise qualify for graduation.

Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman gave a glimpse at his expected ruling this afternoon at a hearing in Oakland on three consolidated class-action lawsuits challenging the high-stakes exit exams. By recent state figures, the decision could affect some 47,000 seniors who have not yet passed the graduation tests measuring junior high math skills and 10th-grade level English.

Two other groups have challenged the exams since the standardized tests were approved by the Legislature in 1999. An education advocacy group sued the state last month accusing Superintendent O'Connell and the state Board of Education of failing to consider other graduation requirement alternatives to the test in time for the class of 2006.

In 2001, an Oakland-based disability rights group sued asserting that the test was unfair to special-education students. The case continues despite a settlement reached that exempted those students from the test this year.

Commenters at her site chimed in:

Freedman said he was apt to agree with the plaintiffs'argument that the test infringes on students' rights by virtue that not all California students have access to the same quality of education.

What rights? The "right" to loaf through 12 years of publicly funded "education" and not even learn to read?

Among the complaints is contradictory curriculum taught in schools that does not match what is being tested on the exams, and a lack of qualified teachers.

The following is the base page for the CA.DoE data sets for teacher qualification data:

[Test Information]

It is incredible that with a $50B yearly "investment" in public education, that this is what we end up with.

It's a shame that the taxpayers can't sue to recover the costs of educating students who do not learn to read well enough to pass these simple tests.
-by Wayne Martin

And in other news, a California Superior Court judge ruled that the FAA cannot deny Airline Transport Pilot certificates to applicants who have failed the written test, because not all pilots have had instructors of equal quality, and some of them attended public schools in which reading was not taught effectively. The Justice Department, acting on behalf of the FAA, has filed a motion in Federal Court to overturn to the decision on grounds of jurisdiction.

The above is satire. For now.

The mystery is why anyone -- anyone -- thinks that a court ruling that a diploma that can/must be awarded even after the student has failing to demonstrate reading or math at a 7-10th grade (right?) level will help. Employers are not stupid. If the diploma *BY LAW* means basically seat-time, then that is how it will be judged. I don't see how this helps the students. Anyone?
-by Mark Roulo

It doesn't help the students. At least not directly and right now. But it does point up the fact that education isn't that important in the public education system and that political expediency is.

That's a worthwhile outcome casting, as it does, light on a previously unilluminated subject.
-by allen

It's always interesting to research a judge who's decisions make you crazy. It only took a couple of hits to find out that this judge had been sanctioned recently:
[San Francisco Gate News Article Link]

Judge's indecisiveness, invoices draw scrutiny

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, May 4, 2006

The state's judicial discipline agency accused an Alameda County judge of misconduct Wednesday for allegedly repeatedly taking longer to decide cases than the law allows and submitting false statements about it to collect his paycheck.

I do hope they contest this guy's ruling.
-by Wayne Martin

Solve the illegal alien problem and you remove a huge part of the failing subgroup of public school students.

Students get FIVE chances to pass with a minimum 50% correct score....

Reason # 1,000,000 to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on trying to prepare every high school student for college. Bring back comprehensive vocational ed for those students who are simply not college material. Take those otherwise wasted $$$$ dollars and develop good practical programs that teach a marketable skill. Give the vocational ed students an alternative exit exam based on that curriculum.

'Nuff said!
-by nailsagainsttheboard
This reminds me of an earlier decision this year in which the Florida Supreme Court was involved, a story Protein Wisdom reported on last week.

From Terry Hastings, via email:

Florida courts rule against vouchers on the grounds that the vouchers violate uniformity standards for our school system.

the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the voucher program violated the “uniformity clause” of the state constitution guaranteeing a high-quality system of public schools. Because the performance of the voucher kids was superior to those in public schools, the court ruled that education was not uniform—or in this case not uniformly miserable. As they used to say in the Soviet Union, everyone gets to share their poverty equally.Fight on brave progressives, fight on.
I agree, Terry—in fact, if I’m remembering correctly, at one point recently the DC school system spent the most per capita on students, and was one of the worst performing systems in the nation.

But let’s face it: politically, this is the easiest way to show one’sconcern. And the appearance of concern, in a bumper sticker culture, draws votes, which in turn translate into power.

Commenters showed their concern:

Somehow when the writers of the Florida constitution were working on it, I doubt they were thinking “uniformly bad.”
-by Christopher Taylor

How DARE somebody outperform somebody else! It must be stopped. Must, I tell you!

I think I shall suggest that for our brigade. No compnay in our brigade shall be allowed to do better on their COMET inspections, or have a higher “C” rating than any other company.

Shouldn’t the FLSCT found that the other schools were not following the FL Constiutional stricture to have a uniform “high-quality” public school system?
-by Major John

One wonders if any of those 5 judges even considered that wheat they were saying is “the law says you’re not allowed to do better than average, so you have to stop.

Heck, they could turn around and shut down successful public schools with the same reasoning.

Obviously the legislature needs to remove that error in the law.
-by Merovign

The person who emailed and the WSJ really have the Florida Supreme Court ruling wrong. The Court ruled:

1. The Legislature could ONLY provide a single uniform system of public education.

2. Voucher schools were not subject to the same standards as the public schools and hence violated the uniformity requirement.

Now, I am very much in favor of vouchers, but nowhere did the court rule or indicate voucher schools were superior to public schools.

The error the majority of the court made was by adding the word ONLY to the constitution. The word is not there.

The actual ruling, and more importantly, the dissent are pretty straight forward reading and can be found at the Florida Supreme Court web site.

-by Rick Caird

and, in the interests of viewpoint balance:

Vouchers defeated in Florida?

Now that’s good news. Really good news.

We defeated ‘em here in California too.

Conservatives just never stop trying to destroy public education.

So glad I read it in Protein.

What would we progressives and welfare-state liberals do without Proteinwisdom?

I ask ya.
-Carl W. Gross

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