When I first read the San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously to give 107 students high school diplomas — as reported by station KQED — even though the students have not met the requirements for graduation, I naturally assumed it was a case of education bureaucrats bending the rules to boost graduation statistics.
But when I looked at the situation more closely, the board’s action was fair and it made sense.
The San Francisco board’s vote was a response to the high-handed decision from the California Department of Education that suddenly canceled the required high school exit exam.
Those 107 students from San Francisco International High arrived at the testing center only to find there was no test and no way to get their diploma, since state law requires passing the test before a diploma is issued.
High school students can try to pass the test beginning as early as their sophomore year and continue to attempt to pass for the rest of their high school career. The fact the vast majority of students taking the test fail it is a damning commentary of the state of education here.
KQED reports, “According to state data, last summer 4,847 math tests were given with 1,286 [26.5 percent] students passing and 5,826 English language arts tests were given with 1,248 [21.4 percent] students passing.”
That’s a quality control standard so bad it makes Chinese sheet rock manufacturers look like the picture of high standards.
Since students obviously can’t pass the test, California education bureaucrats are presented with two choices: Improve education so students are learning and not simply warming a chair, or change the test. Naturally California decided to change the test, and I don’t think the goal is to make it harder.
State bureaucrats decided to cancel “because the exam does not reflect the new state academic standards.” Then, after ruining thousands of senior's attempts to graduate, the department went to the legislature to ask them to retroactively remove the testing requirement for three years so the officials at the state department of education can type up a new test.
In other words, in typical bureaucratic fashion, out of touch education officials happily put the cart before the horse and were then shocked the ride was so dangerous.
No one bothered to think that suddenly changing the rules of the game in the fourth quarter might be controversial for the players.
When informed about the problem with students planning to go to college state Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley breezily told the San Francisco Chronicle, “Our hope is that the few students who find themselves in this situation will only have to defer their dreams of attending the college of their choice for one semester.
"In the meantime, there are other options available to these students, including our California Community Colleges. I received excellent preparation at my local community college before attending university.”
Which is the way elite bureaucrats dismiss the concerns of the little people whose lives they’ve disrupted.
So for at least once the San Francisco board has done the right thing. Congratulations. Try to make it a habit.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.
Michael R. Shannon
MANDATE: Message, Media & Public Relations
Author of: Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)
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