California’s Education Contradiction: Great Colleges, Poor K-12 Performance

The big question is why does the State of California rank so low in the K-12 system within the U.S., but outperform everyone in the world when it comes to college?

According to the newly released Kids Count Survey conducted by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the State of California is ranked 43rd in the United States in K-12 education. 

The survey showed 52 percent of 3- to 4-year-olds are not enrolled in preschool; 75 percent of 4th graders are below proficient in reading and math; and 22 percent of California children are living in poverty. 

In addition, we have 26 percent of California parents who have not graduated from high school. That’s over 2 million parents who decided not to continue with a basic education that is supposedly important to function in our society. 

In the County of Riverside the data isn’t much better. It showed that 38 percent of students have used drugs or tobacco in the last 30 days, and 32 percent of students were truant to school.

But the most disappointing data in our county is that 44 percent of elementary and middle school students are not supervised after school by adults. 

The odd twist to California’s educational woes is what the recently published 2011-2012 World University Rankings showed, which highlights top colleges. The cream of the crop included the usual big names like Harvard University, Princeton University, and the University of Oxford in England.

But California universities ranked high as well. Actually, the highest honor went to the California Institute of Technology, or Cal Tec., and Northern California’s Stanford University tied Harvard for second place. The University of California system schools also made it into the top 10: UC Berkeley ranked 10th on the list; and UCLA placed 13th, just behind Yale at 11th and Columbia at 12th

In the top 50, even more California schools made it: UC San Diego was 33rd, UC Santa Barbara was 35th, and UC Davis was 38th. All of these schools beat Brown University, an Ivy League school that ranked 49th

UC Irvine and USC also made it into the top 100. 

The big question is why does the State of California rank so low in the K-12 system within the U.S., but outperform everyone in the world when it comes to college? Maybe because we force all students to attend a K-12 education, whereas the universities can drop you from school for whatever reason: low grades, discipline, or failure to follow rules of the school. 

Would our rank rise if we dropped students like universities do? What if the state or county fined parents for not forcing students to do home work that will increase academic achievement in the classroom?



Anon July 31, 2012 at 01:46 AM
What does being illegal have to do with race? There are white illegals ! I guess by you assuming that, it makes you the racist, huh? When are we going to meet so I can school you?? I have been waiting..........Go ask your other personality Julian when!
Anon July 31, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Hey Andy/Julian maybe we need to build more Community Colleges because parents do not have high school diplomas. That will fix it! For someone who lives here, it amazes me you didnt know we had 2 just miles away!
Ken Mayes July 31, 2012 at 05:44 AM
The writer of this article must have gone to school in California because it is the most confusing article I have seen in ages.
michael August 02, 2012 at 10:02 AM
Its because our k-12 schools are crapy and budget cut backs are mostly to blame!!!
Milan Moravec August 02, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Californians can not afford University of California tuition. . UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau, Provost Breslauer leave an indelible mark on access and affordability. Self absorbed Chancellor and Provost are outspoken for public Cal. ‘charging Californians much higher’ tuition. Number 1 ranked Harvard is now less costly. Cal. tuition is rising faster than costs at other universities. The ‘charge Californians higher’ tuition makes Cal. the most expensive public university! Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) Breslauer ($306,000 salary) like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving them every dollar expected. The ‘charge Californians more’ tuition skyrocketed fees by an average 14% per year from 2006 to 2011-12 academic years. If Birgeneau Breslauer had allowed fees to rise at the same rate of inflation over the past 10 years they would still be in reach of most middle income students. Chancellor Provost increased disparities in higher education defeat the promise of equality of opportunity. An unacceptable legacy for students, parents, politicians! UC Berkeley is to maximize access to the widest number of Californians at a reasonable cost, Birgeneau’s Breslauer’s ‘charge Californians higher’ tuition denies middle income Californians the transformative value of Cal’s higher education. Opinions? UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu Calif. State Senators, Assembly members.


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