Fire The State Board of Education

Joe Mathews

Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)


After three years of work, the California Department of Education has produced its new dashboard.

Put simply, it’s a deceptive and useless joke.

What’s wrong with it? Where to begin? Academic measures are buried and misleading. (The LA Times noted that schools where most students don’t test as proficient in math can end up with high ratings, while those with proficiency end up with somewhat lesser ratings). The color coding and display is confounding. There’s no attempt to summarize. Terms are vague and bureaucratic.

For more, read the LA Times story on it.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist. But this is not incompetence. It’s an intentionally confounding and useless display, advanced by those who dislike accountability for school performance, especially teachers’ unions. This behavior is particularly irresponsible since state’s school laws are asking parents and communities to have a bigger role in making school changes. How are we supposed to do that when you hide the ball about how schools are doing?

There are two responses. One, California needs groups outside government to continue the good work of obtaining state data and putting it into usable form.

And second, the next governor should demand the resignations of every single member of the State Board of Education. And go back to the drawing board.

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