California schools rank 30th in nation

January 13, 2011

California schools received a C grade and ranked 30th in the nation in an annual education survey released Tuesday. [CaliforniaWatch]

The annual Quality Counts report, published by Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, is based on surveys sent to the chief state school officers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, included sections regarding transitions and alignment, school finance, and the impact of the economy on education.

“It is fitting that the latest edition of Quality Counts that studied the impact of the economy on education should coincide with the release of our governor’s budget proposal that underscored California’s extensive budget problems,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to California Watch.

“Our state’s overall grade for six categories studied is a C – the same as the nation’s. But average is not good enough for me, for our students, or for our teachers. You wouldn’t want a ‘C’ mechanic working on your car, a ‘C’ attorney defending you in court, or a ‘C’ surgeon operating on you in a hospital – and we can’t afford to be satisfied with a ‘C’ for California schools.”

California students in the fourth and eighth grades have made important strides in improving reading and math, the study found. But overall, the state fared poorly in many K-12 achievement categories, barely passing with a D-minus grade.

The state’s graduation rate fell between 2000 and 2007, dragging down the overall achievement score.

Overall, Maryland was ranked above all other states in educational quality followed by Massachusetts and New York.

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People who complain about California’s wastefully high spending for education are delusional and need to learn the truth. California only spends more in total on education than most states because it has so many more students than most states.

In reality, California spends less per student than the national average. For 2007-8, the national average per student spending for K-12 was $10,259. The average spending in California was only $9,863 per student. The top ranked states – Maryland, Massachusetts and New York – spent $12,966, $13,454 and $17,173 per student, respectively.

Clearly, you tend to get what you pay for when it comes to education spending. If we cut educational spending further, we will likely get even worse results.

(Source: Public Education Finances – 2003, US Census,

When the “dollars per student” measurement is mentioned, I have to wonder how much truly “trickles down” to what actually impacts the student. Is it possible that the “need” that was filled by passing Prop 13 to avoid taxing people out of their homes led to school administrators leaning how to manipulate the system to avoid making any drastic cuts to the running of administrations? We have seen all sorts of programs being cut over the years, be it sports or arts, we have seen dramatic increases in the number of students a teacher is expected to teach to, some districts make the parents pay for the school buses their students ride on, we have seen cut backs in the number of teachers which led to more experienced teachers retiring and more new teachers working for less, more out of pocket expenses that teachers pay for for class supplies, but where has there ever been evidence that administrators have sacrificed or cut back? Why is that some school boards provide medical insurance for board members? I don’t think anyone has the “real” answer as to why our students are not learning like they used to; certainly modern gadgets contribute, the fact that many if not most families that have two parents have both of those parents working which leads to less interaction with the children and enables them to do what they want not what they should be doing; but teaching to a test certainly cannot be the best approach either. It is very easy to criticize without providing solutions; I honestly believe that best first step is to have an accounting of administration costs and perhaps a full audit of where the dollars in education actually go. Perhaps we can learn something from an investigation like that so that we could make a better informed decision about how to make our education system better.

“…but where has there ever been evidence that administrators have sacrificed or cut back? Why is that some school boards provide medical insurance for board members?”

EXCELLENT questions, bob!! bob I agree with your concerns 100%.

When the chemistry of the teacher and student is imbalanced, it would be nice if the parents can fill in the gap.

When the chemistry of the parent and children is imbalanced, it would be nice if the teachers can fill in the gap.

It hasn’t been adequately happening because teachers, parents are strained (overworked).

There is only so much time in a day.

40 years ago I remember a 75 years old man telling me that the only people that should have children are the rich (poor people should not). It reminds me of a song from Harry Chaphin “Cat in the Craddle” But we are fortunate to live in the Central Coast.

Whatever the difficulty, the care is in the now (as much as one can spare or do – or simply have to work harder and make time) or never.

WHY are we so low in ranking? Does this reflect on the learning abilities of our children, the teaching abilities of our teachers or both???

Show me the money…

The cost per student in CA is one of the highest in the nation yet we are at the lower third of the nation in grades. and average graduation averages. What’s up with that? Throw taxpayer money at the the schools, yet no actual surceases, very political?

I think the children’s first teachers (single parent or both parent environment) are strained in the struggle of survival to offer adequate quality time and attention as their children go through they struggle through the varying stages of life.

I think children today are too spoiled to consider the needs of anyone other than themselves. They lack respect for their elders, they are given gaming systems, cell phones, MP3 players, etc. and have no clue what life without is about. There are exceptions to this. We cannot discipline our children out of fear of legal reprecussion. Remember, annoying a teenager is an offense that can lead in arrest…This “power” is drawn into their school time. Teachers struggle to pass a student that shouldn’t be passed because of reprecussions. We need to parent our children not befriend them. It is our responsibility to give them the moral compass to go out into the world and be a productive member of society. Teach them respect, consideration, and empathy for others. Let’s get back to the “old ways”. When teachers could hug their students without fear of sexual suggestion, and children could be punished for their misbehaviors. It’s a start…

I’m in my 50’s and not a teacher. I work at a business where a number of teenagers are employed. There is an obvious deficit in the reasoning ability of the ‘new gen’ as compared to those a few years their senior. If this survey is accurate, I suggest that the problem is with the raw materials; the students; versus the teachers/admin. Of course, the paring down of resources for education does not help, but more relative is the ‘paring down’ or parental abilities. Garbage in, garbage out.

I think that this will be an opportunity for the education system to really come out and give themselves a pat on the back for being ranked 30th.

It certainly beats the hell out of being last in regards to bringing any business’s to the state.

The ship is headed over the waterfall-man the lifeboats.

Care to cite your reference? Check this, Huge increase in California business.

I think we need to put more attention into our schools, find out what is wrong. We used to be near the top.

I think we have too much greed, money concentrated in the wrong area. We have too much poverty and urban blight. Tax the rich way more, they are reaping the rewards of being in our glorious state and using all the fancy stuff the taxpayers have created. We need to bring all the people up to a reasonable standard.

Straight out of Karl Marx.


Take a look around you and look at all of the business locations that are EMPTY. Read the newspaper about how difficult or impossible it is to do business in California. Why do you think all of the business’s are leaving the “Golden” state which is quickly turning to “Brown.”

Have you ever wondered why most of the young kids that are working in your local stores for the most part can’t even make change. I think it’s disgraceful that these kids have a high school diploma and for the most part there are a very large number of them that can’t read, write or do arithmatic.

I really don’t think one has to venture out too far to figure this one out. Good luck!

It’s truly a shameful situation. California’s schools once led the nation. Now we’re a joke. If a private business had failed as badly as our public schools have, it would have been closed years ago.

Maybe a little less focus on cramming more pieces into the curriculum (not a political statement) and a bit more real focus on reading and actually TEACHING things like comprehension… Just think about it, not trying to have kids memorize facts of new material, but rather learning to think, reason, and process information that could then be applied to any subject or content. WOW, now that would make for a great education!

Gee, I wonder if unguarded borders and run away illegal immigration has anything to do with it???????

Be careful. The Moderator will delete your post stating that this topic has nothing to do with illegal immigration.

Fedup: you have made eleven comments on this web site, more than one of them directed at me. your comments will now appear after a moderator approves them, Troll the mod at your own risk if you enjoy participating here, you are this ><close to a ban.

If anyone has questions about moderation Email is requested, we are discussing news and stories here, the Moderator is not news,

please consider my requests in earnest.

Did you actually read the linked article, or merely grinding your immigrant ax again.

I hope my post doesn’t offend, but here goes: I don’t have an “immigrant ax” to grind but I do have 3 children in public school. I’m not a teacher and I don’t work for the school district but I’m involved at their schools and I see first-hand how illegal immigration DOES have a negative effect on test scores and budget issues.

For instance, this year, my kids’ schools do not have money for GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) but they do have money for ESL (English as Second Language) classes, tutors, extra computer time, before & after school tutoring, etc…) Their school also had to hire bi-lingual secretary and after 20 years, started printing school forms in Spanish–all at extra cost. The demographics have changed dramatically in my kids’ school district and test scores have plummeted. It’s no coincidence.

Also, it’s common knowledge among parents that the kids who benefit most from these school programs–paid for by our tax dollars–are NOT the A and B students, but the consistently low-ranking children of illegal immigrants. It’s the elephant in the room that everyone knows about–especially in northern SLO County–San Miguel and Paso in particular.