Report: State's schools failing By Harrison Sheppard and Naush Boghossian
California policies that make it difficult to fire ineffective teachers and set tougher performance standards are among dozens of problems imperiling the state's public school system, according to a landmark report aimed at overhauling education.
The findings are among hundreds in the broadest report in years and paint a picture of a K-12 educational system that is failing the state's children and needs top-to-bottom changes and billions of dollars in investment.
The report -- actually a series of 22 studies -- recommends sweeping changes in school laws and structures such as teacher training and new data tracking. And in one of its most politically charged proposals, the report recommends giving principals more power to spend money, run their schools and fire teachers they deem ineffective.
"It may be that the power to dismiss teachers would allow the principal to exercise influence in the school even without dismissing teachers," the study's authors note. "And it is this increased influence and not the firing of substantial numbers of teachers that is particularly important for principals' efficacy."
The report also found the state's education finance system is flawed and haphazard, resulting in similar schools receiving different funding amounts. And it said the state needs to do a better job tracking educational data to measure student progress and track which reforms are effective.
he state currently spends about $66 billion a year on education. But its proposals for teachers may draw some of the most heat, as such issues have been long debated in districts like Los Angeles Unified, where powerful unions have blocked efforts to give principals more clout. While such moves wouldn't likely cost the state much more, they are likely to face strong opposition from the state's teachers unions.
Schwarzenegger felt their wrath in 2005 when the California Teachers Association spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat his plan to reform the state's tenure laws. That proposal would have extended by three years the period of time before teachers earn job security afforded by tenure.
But the study released Wednesday found that California teachers earn tenure more quickly than their counterparts in most other states.
CTA President Barbara Kerr said the group would oppose efforts to make it easier to fire teachers.Guam economy on credit watch
Guam's economy has taken another hit with the Standard and Poor's credit rating agency placing the government on a credit watch.
Standard and Poor's moved after the Government of Guam last week borrowed $US6 million to pay its public school system employees.
The governor, Felix Camacho, concedes the island's fiscal situation is serious and immediate action is needed.
The former speaker, Senator Ben Pangelinan, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat that things have reached crisis point and this latest blow could devastate the Guam economy.