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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Golden State Tarnish

Sharon Noguchi writes at The San Jose Mercury News:
California students continue to perform near the bottom of states in reading and math, 2015 test results released Wednesday show. And even when taking into account factors like the predominance of English learners and poor children, a new analysis indicates that the state would still end up in the academic cellar.

What's sometimes called the Nation's Report Card, a sampling of fourth- and eighth-graders in reading and math, painted a dismal picture of a state that insists it is prioritizing K-12 education, on which it is spending $53 billion this fiscal year. Average fourth-grade math scores place California among the worst, just one point on a zero-to-500 scale above New Mexico, Alabama and Washington, D.C. Eighth-graders performed a bit better, nearly the same as students in nine states, and above those in five states and the nation's capital.
Just 27 to 29 percent of California students were rated proficient in the two subjects.

Reformers point to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, as proof of public schools' persistent failure. "California's broken education system continues to fail our kids," Manny Rivera, a spokesman for the advocacy group Students Matter, wrote in an email. "Too many of California's students -- especially low-income and kids of color -- are falling further and further behind, yet our state's education system continues to hum along to a status quo that fails to produce the results our kids deserve."
To see all NAEP scores, go to read the Urban Institute's analysis of 10 years of previous NAEP scores, go to and click on "Breaking the Curve: Promises and Pitfalls of Using NAEP Data to Assess the State Role in Student Achievement."
A few weeks ago, Dan Walters wrote about the state's 6.1 percent unemployment rate, the 9th highest of the states.
Among the nation’s 387 Bureau of Labor Statistics “metropolitan statistical areas (MSA),” nine of the 10 with the highest unemployment rates are in California, topped by 24.2 percent in Imperial County. Among the nation’s 51 largest MSAs, the Riverside-San Bernardino region is dead last at 7.1 percent.

California fares even worse by a truer measure of underemployment, called U-6, which counts not only workers who are officially unemployed, but those “marginally attached” to the labor force and those involuntarily working part-time.
The state’s U-6 rate is 14 percent, down a bit from the recession but still the nation’s second-highest, topped only by Nevada’s 15.2 percent.
Back to the poverty rate. It’s not only higher than the national rate, but as the California Budget and Policy Center points out, the data indicate that 22.7 percent of the state’s children are living in poverty, and they are nearly a third of all officially impoverished Californians.
As dark as that situation may sound, it’s actually worse. By the Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure, which uses broader factors including the cost of living – especially housing – 23.4 percent of Californians are impoverished.