It is the dream of every government to provide quality education that conforms to the ever changing trends and demands of the current global economy. Like any other state government, California is faced with a host of challenges in meeting this responsibility. Education as a sector, brings together many stakeholders who include; students, teachers, parents, government agencies, businesses and non governmental agencies.
California is one of the states forming the federal union of the United States of America and is the 8th largest economy in the world. The state is the hub of research and technology as leading brands like Google, Microsoft, yahoo and Apple are based there. One expects of such a state to be at the forefront in producing learners who are well trained to fit into such corporations, but It is quite the opposite in the ground as statistics show that a third of ninth grade students drop out before graduation, a third complete college without the requisite skills to prosper in college or their carriers and those admitted to colleges face challenges in admission and acquiring the course work required as budget deficits bite into the higher education system.
This paper will discuss the education system in California, the challenges and the ways of mitigating them
In the beginning of the 21st century, California was among the bottom ten states in the size of their classes, teacher/ student ratio, quality of the libraries and other important school resources. Furthermore the issue of unequal resource allocation is a major concern. Some districts spend $6,000 per pupil while others spend as much as $ 20,000. The disparities widen as the spending is attuned for cost of living.
Despite California having some of the most well trained teachers in the country, not all pupils can access them due to the lowering of standards for teachers going into less funded districts due to diminishing resources. Differences in funding have led to the widening of the gap in working conditions and salaries for the teachers. Districts where the teachers are paid less salaries gather for colored students and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. More than half of their staff are unaccredited and with limited experience, or their level of education is low. The eventual result is the uneven distribution of teacher quality. Fields like special education, which is a high need area, has minimal quality programs to supplement demand hence it is the only state in the nation to recruit special education teachers lacking field experience.
The purpose of any school system globally is to prepare learners to apply knowledge gained during studies in real life. The bottom line is to nurture each student’s ability to solve complicated challenges and produce economic progress and social integration. The Common Core Standards (CCS) in English language, arts and Mathematics were adopted by the state of California in 2010. This provides the state with an opportunity to integrate curriculum from kindergarten to grade 12 and prepare students for competition on the world stage. As the world becomes more intricate, students are required to digest information in an elastic manner, nurture intricate ways of thinking and abilities to work together in many ways.
As the new standards come into practice, there is a need in making sure that institutions have the requisite teaching materials including state of the art equipment needed in implementation. In a time of limited resources, improving productivity is of critical importance. One way of achieving this is by utilizing technology which has proved successful in the business sector. This does not imply substituting teachers with computers but integrating technology in the learning process to boost efficiency in the school setting.
According to the US bureau of labor and statistics (BLS), expansion of the job market between now and 2018 will occur in the fields of sales, service, administration and professional areas. In the same forecast it also highlighted the educational requirements that will needed to meet the new job demands. An associate degree will be the least requirement while most will demand a bachelor’s degree or more. Considering these trends, there is an urgent need to align California’s secondary and higher education system with them.
Senior citizens of California are among the most learned in the world but those under the age of 35 cannot compete with those of other developed countries. The primary cause of this deterioration is reducing high school graduation and college attendance rates. Ways of countering this challenge are outsourcing funds and channeling them to improving our systems of education. This will make that higher education is available to all. Another way is by starting, in collaboration with other stakeholders a information storage facility that connects databases from institutions of higher learning and Employment Development Department to keep track of the students after graduation.
The wellbeing of the students is paramount in the achievement of academic success. Promoting student health, nutrition and bodily wellbeing have extensive effects because healthy students attend school regularly, keen in class and are well mannered. Children who have healthy insurance can access medical care when required resulting into healthy students. There is also a clear link between body fitness and attentiveness, concentration and academic performance. The California department of education has a unique chance, contrary to the past of providing leadership required to encourage and promote schools as they become locations where registration, vital information and healthy care services can be accessed.
According to the budget proposal for the 2011-12 school year, state funding for education has been diminishing by 13 percent from 2007-08, without factoring in inflation. These financial problems have led to a higher student to teacher ratio and few subordinate staff. In California, most of the funding for education comes from grants, especially in districts in low income areas. The end result is that more time has been used on administering minimal money, rather than concentrating on teaching. The above challenges can be addressed by establishing a permanent funding system which is open, reasonable and answerable to the requirements of the students. The above can be achieved by seeking new sources of funding, supporting economically disadvantage districts in establishing working systems.
The above challenges have conspired to produce the following results despite the progress that has been made. In reading, California students were in position 48 and 49 in fourth and eighth grades respectively among the 50 states on the National Assessment of Education progress in 2009. Mathematics was no better as 4th and 8th graders were position 45 and 48 respectively. In science they outdid only Mississippi, by being position 49 in both grades. In 2010 the rate of graduation stood at 79 percent. Colored students graduated at a rate of 60 percent. College attendance has drastically dropped compared with other states with 28 percent completing studies from universities.
Despite the above challenges, the state of California can utilize the resources at its disposal to achieve the desired goals of improving the quality of education it offers to its citizens. These resources include; availability of professional practitioners, pioneering educational programs and qualified teachers. The parents of California have also demonstrated their support for improvement of public education through investment. The state also boasts of an unquestionable technological expertise. The new leadership has demonstrated close working relationship between the Governor, State Board of Education and the California Department of Education. If all these resources are pooled together the desired goal will be achieved.