NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

California Spending (high) Versus Test Scores (low)

October 2, 2002

California is administering competency tests in English and math which students must pass to get a high school diploma. The news isn't good.

  • This year, 52 percent of juniors failed the test.
  • Just 28 percent of blacks passed and only 30 percent of Hispanics.
  • Whites passed at a 65 percent rate, and Asians at 70 percent -- although, put another way, nearly a third of Asians who took the test flunked it.

Alarmed at the failure of the school system to educate their kids, the state's parents pushed for more spending to improve spending. They got it, but it hasn't worked, observers say.

  • Spending on K-12 has soared to $31 billion, over half the state's budget.
  • California spends about $7,000 per student -- more than Japan and Europe.
  • Teachers' salaries rank seventh among all state, and first for new teachers.

California's economy depends on a well-educated sophisticated work force to continue innovating and expanding. Now, high tech firms that employ 1.4 million have to import educated immigrants from Europe, India and Asia to fill the top jobs.

But will more money for students solve the problem? Many observers point out that it could come from the 40 percent of each education dollar that goes, not to the classroom, but to the state's education bureaucracy. School choice would help, but the state's teachers' union stands in the way, say observers. In the mean time, the bureaucracy has come up with an answer to failing scores: full implementation of the tests has been postponed.

Source: Editorial, "Blame the Test," Investor's Business Daily, October 2, 2002.


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