The suggestions are part of a package of more than 20 academic studies commissioned by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other political leaders. The first was released Wednesday and will be given to a bipartisan committee examining the state's public education system that will make recommendations later this year.
Schwarzenegger said that spending more money without substantial changes to the way California distributes funding won't do much to help students or fix schools. The governor said extensive reforms could save the state billions of dollars that can be reinvested in classrooms.
So what do we learn several paragraphs later?
Many of the conclusions in the report stem from familiar criticisms. The research does not suggest specific policy changes but does offer general fixes. They include simplifying state regulations so schools have greater control over their budgets, revising teacher evaluation and salary schedules, and lengthening the school day for schools with many poor and minority students.
The studies also said California needs to revamp its teacher assessments, including one report in which principals stressed their desire for an easier way to fire teachers without bureaucratic hurdles.
Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association, the state's largest lobbying group, noted that California voters rejected a 2005 Schwarzenegger initiative that would have extended teachers' probationary period from two years to five. Teachers can be fired without cause during that period.
Leave it to Boss Kerr.
I'm curious about one thing, however. What, exactly, is a bad teacher? We all know who they are, but how do we objectively identify them? How many do we have to fire before all the children learn? The devil's in them details, boy, and Boss Kerr ain't gonna help you git to that devil.