Fixing our broken education system should be a priority for both political parties. Access to education, choice in schooling, and affordability are just a few of the issues the system faces. Under the current system, parents can enroll their children in a new school if the current institution is underperforming. In order to determine what a “failing” institution looks like, California has primarily used the Academic Performance Index, known as the API, which looks at each school’s test scores.
Recently, the California School Dashboard was introduced as a new way for the districts to measure each school’s success rates. Dashboard, unlike the API, takes absentee and suspension data into consideration. Although the new system is painting a broader picture for parents and educators to look at, there is no enforcement of the expectations placed on the schools.
The dashboard allows each school to be ranked in a color category that is coordinated with its performance rate. If a school is severely lacking, it will be placed in the red category and enter the “continuous improvement” program. Within this program, there are limited funds the school will have access to in order to improve its effectiveness. Rather than a remapping of the budget, the burden is being placed on the parents to brainstorm their own solutions and give additional funds out of their pockets to aid their children’s school.
A dashboard can be seen as a new attempt by lawmakers to become more transparent. However, parents are no longer notified when their child’s school falls into the red category, making it extremely hard for there to be accountability. Keeping parents uninformed is a manipulation of the facts in order to try silence dissatisfied parents. This abuse of power is only further contributing to a broken system whose systemic problems are targeting a new generation of students.
The most concerning aspect of the Dashboard’s implementation is the lack of awareness for minority groups or lower income neighborhoods, which are already at a disadvantage when it comes to equal access to education. A former teacher for the California Teachers Association, Ed Sibby, commented that the list was never effective, to begin with, and now is adding new hurdles for parents to jump through.
Although the system had its flaws previously, lawmakers have created a whole new set of issues.
Shifting from oversight to complete abdication of responsibility is proof that the San Diego Unified School District has become lazy in its attempts to fix their schools. Even less funding, the burdening of parents, and misleading information is creating a worse system that students are subjected to.
Photo by tam wai