07/03/2020

Two events frame California educational crisis

Two back-to-back events last month frame California’s educational conundrum.

A Superior Court judge in Los Angeles County rebuffed efforts by state schools Supt. Tom Torlakson and other state officials to block a lawsuit alleging that California has failed to teach reading to some black and Latino children.

The suit, filed on behalf of children in Los Angeles, Stockton and Inglewood, is the latest effort by educational reform and civil rights groups to force the state to intervene in low-performing schools.

. . . The second event was Torlakson’s release of high school graduation data for 2017, using a new methodology dictated by the federal government. Overall, he reported, 82.7 percent of California students who entered the ninth grade in 2013 were awarded regular diplomas four years later.

That overall rate is not horrible, but when one looks at the details, the “achievement gap” persists. Asian students, including Filipinos, graduated at a 93 percent rate, trailed by whites at 87.3 percent, but for black students, it was 73.1 percent and for Latinos, the largest single bloc of K-12 students, it was 80.3 percent.

Even more alarming, the graduation rate for English-learners was just 67.1 percent, for foster children 50.8 percent and for “socioeconomically disadvantaged” kids 78.8 percent.

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