– We can’t afford more
– But, we do deserve better facts
Several days ago, California voters rejected further hikes in school taxes. Considering the especially severe economic situation out there, with things like house values and overall personal wealth plummeting, that isn’t hard to understand – unless you are an educator – even the nation’s leading educator.
In a May 22 news release, the US Secretary of Education gets on California’s case for turning down the tax increase.
In a recent speech, the secretary told Californians, “Your state once had the best education system in the country. From cradle to career, you took care of your children.”
This is a politically appealing assertion, but I don’t think the facts support it. Since the first days of state testing from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the early 1990s, California has never ranked at the top. In fact, California’s official NAEP scores generally rank about dead last. Even after making corrections for strong shifts in student demographics in the state (which official reports don’t do – it’s something I and a few other researchers are looking at), I don’t see how anyone can claim California’s educational system was the best, at least over the past two decades.
So, we need better, fact-based presentations instead of politically attractive assertions from Washington. That’s the way good policies will be implemented.
And, somehow, Washington needs to start listening to the fact-based signals we are sending them – the public is on its financial back, and right now a tax increase is the last thing we need.