Education in California screams for improvement. It is rated 10th from the bottom among the 50 states. The student performance index is far lower than the national average; it is D-plus. In that system, according to niche.com, ABC Unified is 70 out of 474 school districts.
So it is a good system compared to California but certainly there is room for improvement. According to the same academic survey, California received a B-minus in their school improvement exertion.
However, there are some factors that pose hindrances in California’s efforts towards improving education– its structure and system. This post will concentrate on 5 such problems and how you, as a citizen, can help.
Problem #1: Lack of funds
The recession of 2008-2013 adversely affected California schools. School funding was dramatically cut yet expenses remained the same. This led to the inability of districts to catch up to maintenance and capital needs.
Forming communities and clubs and gathering donations from the community, businesses, and from parents is a great way to enhance a school’s budget. These can be independent non-governmental groups of local people coming forward to help build a better future for their nation. Be aware of your local school needs and attend LCAP and other parent leadership meetings. Attend Facilities meetings and become aware of potential sources of revenue, including prudent financing and investment strategies necessary to provide for the needs of the school. After reviewing budgets and plans for school expenditures, if the school asks your opinion through a vote. Go VOTE.
Problem#2: Achievement Disparities
There are significant achievement gaps between areas based on socioeconomic status and other factors in California. Unfortunately, where you live can be a strong determinant of what kind of education you receive which leads to disparate professional opportunities later.
Making extra efforts to communicate with administrators, teachers, and parents as to the best way to efficiently use the funds received may be one way to bridge these gaps. Attending LCAP meetings may also help. Throwing more money is not the solution- it is how those monies are spent and whether we listen to the community telling the schools its needs. So go on community—tell it as it is. We may not be the expert but we know our kids.
Problem#3: Non-participating parents
The structure of education in three-fold, including students, teachers and parents. The last one is as important as the first two in education. Lack of involvement and participation has been a major cause in deterioration of the education system in California.
Since parents know their kids the best, no child can progress without their support! PTSA’s (Parent, Teacher, STUDENT, associations) and foundations are key to motivating parents to be part of their kid’s education. The principle of giving is better than receiving is true when it comes to these groups. The more you participate the more you know about what is happening at the school and the more you can benefit your own child. It’s that simple! Move PTSA meetings to convenient times for parents who work and for parents who have flexible hours. Consider after school sports or clubs children might be involved in and don’t forget to bring food and make it fun. Any other ideas on how to increase parent participation? Please share.
Problem#4: Student health
Obesity has reached epidemic levels in the US. This is primarily due to the high consumption of fast food. Obesity brings along other health disorders such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which cause more absenteeism among students. Opiod drug abuse has dramatically increased across the country and this affects the ability of kids to learn.
One of the District Strategic goals is for healthy students so that is a great start! We can be part of our children’s education about good food choices and better eating habits. Some of the health educational segments are conducted online only. Parents can augment this education through live discussion of health issues and also learning about the consequences of poor eating habits. A similar approach can be used to prevent an opiod crisis in our own homes by paying close attention to our children. Sometimes we think they are all grown up and don’t need as much help. This is true to an extent—but they still need us watching and guiding them despite their protestations. As Parents your one-on-one observation of your child is key and being aware of the cues for drug use and addiction is important. Maybe schools should have classes and teach the parents about these issues. What do you think? Maybe the opiod education can be tied to Red Ribbon week. Support networks and counsellors exist in the school to help kids regarding stress and drugs and career counselling. Do you know about these? Are they robust enough? Please comment.
Problem#5: Tech addiction
California being a leading techie state, most students are addicted to gadgets and internet and lose interest in studying academics. Sometimes it is hard to tell when the student is working on homework or just playing on the internet.
Create tech limits and try to keep to them. Arrange for more outdoor sports like local skating or soccer competitions to divert young students from tech engagements. More involvement in outdoor games can reduce tech addiction and help children increase their concentration. What solutions have you come up with? Other parents want to know.