09/25/2018

Would more money close our education gap?

Unfortunately, nationwide academic tests tell us that California’s 6 million K-12 school students rank near the bottom in achievement vis-à-vis those in other states.

In the National Assessment of Academic Progress (NAEP) testing, for example, California’s fourth-graders rank lower than those in 45 other states and in reading, lower than kids in 39 other states.

Reading, math and other vital skills are especially lacking among Latino and black students, creating a long-standing “achievement gap” that appears to be wider in California than elsewhere.

In recent years, the state has not only increased overall school spending by about 50 percent per student, but has specifically aimed additional billions of dollars at closing the gap through the Local Control Funding Formula.

Nevertheless, the gap has continued, touching off acrimonious debate among educational factions over causes and cures.

. . . There’s also no certainty that spending tens of billions of dollars more on schools would close the gap.

No. 1 New York’s 4th-grade NAEP scores are virtually identical to those of California, which spends scarcely half as much. Idaho, which is No. 50 in spending, has scores as high or higher than both. Texas’ demographics are similar to California’s and spends less per pupil but has higher scores.

Money, it would seem, is not the simplistic cure-all for California’s educational crisis that many would have us believe.

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