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California Budget Good for Black and Latino Students

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In Governor Brown’s newly released budget proposal for 2013-14 he suggests that there is a real need to target public education in our urban cities. While there are other areas of the budget I could or should focus on, I will take a look at public education this week and other areas like health care later.

According to a report dated 1/11/13 from the Department of Education, we have 6.2 million students attending public schools where only 27% have passed the math and English language tests of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and a 14.4% statewide cohort dropout rate. We have a 76.3% graduation rate for all students and only 36.9% of those graduating meet UC/CSU required courses for admission. Over 55% of California’s students are enrolled in the Free Meal Program which is an indicator of how many live at or below the poverty level in the state.

Our student demographics by race are: 8.6% Asian; 52.3% Hispanic; 6.5% African American and 26.1% White. They are taught by 286,969 teachers of which 4.9% are Asian, 17.3% Hispanic, 4.0% African American and 67.2% White with a 23.2 per pupil average class size and $67,448 annual salary for our teachers.

When it comes to what is going on in the classroom by race, I found in math, 43% of Asian, 25% of Hispanics, 26% of African Americans and 41% of Whites pass the CAHSEE test. On the ELA Test 25% Asian, 25% Hispanic, 33% African American and 44% White pass the English language test.

We have a graduation rate from high school by race of 89.7% Asian, 70.4% Hispanic, 62.8% African American and 76.3% White.

We have a statewide dropout rate by race of 6.2% Asian, 17.7% Hispanic, 24.7% African American and 8.9% White. These students just disappear from our educational radar screen and appear or show up in our legal or social service system.

Now when it comes to those who do graduate we find only 63% Asian, 26.7% Hispanic, 27.5% African American and 36.9% White graduate with UC/CSU required courses for admission.

As this data indicates the two groups suffering the most live in our urban communities and should get a lot of attention. I want to encourage those school boards and superintendents to evaluate their own best practices and implement them to correct many of their schools’ shortcomings.

For example, in San Bernardino City Unified School District, they have Richardson Prep Hi Middle School that has consistently scored over the state baseline score of 800; their recent score was 939. This is how each racial group scored in proficiency of the English Language Arts and Math tests: Asian ELA 100% and 92% in math; Hispanic 85% in ELA & 85% in math; African American 91% in ELA & 88% in math; and White 96% in ELA & 88% in math.

When it comes to charter schools in the district, I selected Hardy Brown College Prep, which is an elementary school, named in my honor. I did not advocate for the school but was approached by some parents in the community and Margaret Fortune of Fortune Schools in Sacramento to name the school after me. The school happens to be comprised of over 95% African Americans with a majority of them qualifying for Free Meal Programs and where a majority was testing in the failing percentile of their old classrooms. These students currently test at 800+ on the statewide Academic Performance Index testing program as a charter school within the San Bernardino City Unified School District.

The reason I point these two schools out as examples, is to suggest that the district evaluate what these staff members are doing and use the new financial resources to elevate the quality of education for all students in the district.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Riverside Unified School District has formed partnerships with many educational stakeholders and employers to improve the quality of education and skill sets for the workforce of tomorrow. Read the letter to the editor on this page from Cindy Taylor, Director Completion Counts for more details.

I think the budget as proposed by Governor Brown can be beneficial to all stakeholders in our region concerned about education, employment, and retirement.

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