Monday, October 22 , 2018, 7:22 pm | Partly Cloudy with Haze 62º

 
 
 
 

Ron Fink: Lompoc Schools Are Failing Students

The California Department of Education states on its website that “in 2013, California has a new accountability system that is based on multiple measures. These measures are used to determine local educational agency (LEA) and school progress toward meeting the needs of their students. The measures are based on factors that contribute to a quality education, including high school graduation rates, college/career readiness, student test scores, English learner (EL) progress, suspension rates, and parent engagement.”

Even in California, a state where success isn’t measured by how well you do, but only whether you show up and fill a seat so school districts can get their state and federal funding, there are standards.

Whether or not these standards are set high enough to produce graduates who can comprehend the information they receive throughout their future lives is questionable.

The reason I can say that is because most community colleges must re-educate newly arrived students with “refresher courses” so that they can grasp the higher standards that are required for advanced education.

The Lompoc Unified School District has failed to provide an adequate education for its students as demonstrated by the states objective measurement system.

The most discouraging metric was that students weren’t making progress toward English-language proficiency from one year to the next as measured by the California English Language Development Test results.

For students to assimilate into the workforce and society in general, they must at least be equipped to understand the English language. Training materials, specifications and company policies are written in English; few employers will hire someone who doesn’t have this basic skill.

Country singer John Conlee performed a hit called “Stuff That Works” several years ago. His premise was that we shouldn’t change anything that’s working well.

Back when I went to school, the focus was on reading, writing (penmanship and composition) and arithmetic.

This was the stuff that worked to help you and me in life. Every company I worked for had written procedures that they expected to you to understand; they expected you to prepare written reports concerning your activities and the results of equipment testing.

Today the focus must be on something else, because too many kids are graduating high school who lack these basic skills.  No wonder we must import foreigners for technical work; we simply aren’t educating our own workforce.

This could be them reason so many can’t move beyond entry level employment and must rely on government programs to exist.

The district must work to solve this problem. If the administration can’t figure out how to improve this metric then the board of education, an elected group who per their website “set policies under which the district operates and adopt the budget,” need to consider hiring an independent analyst to recommend methods to fix it.

If the school board can’t fix it, then we need to replace them during the next election with folks who have a vision; the same holds true for district administrators.

The standard answer is that “teachers need better pay and benefits,” but response to this mantra has produced the conditions we have today.

Obviously more pay doesn’t fix the problem, because some, not all, teachers only view their work as simply a job, not a vocation. Teacher accountability is nearly non-existent once they become tenured employees.

Back to when I went to school — teachers had more passion about their craft. They also had a steep set of pass/fail rules, and if you couldn’t grasp what was being taught, it was up to you to work harder.

There were no school days when we didn’t have homework to do and my day started at 6 a.m. and. after a bus ride. ended at about 3:30 p.m. Then an hour or so of homework.

There was no room for whiners; in the San Fernando Valley, the classrooms weren’t air conditioned, or for that matter heated very well either, and there were no bus shelters when it rained.

My job as a kid was to successfully complete each class with a “C” or better and then seek greater challenges. Summer school to improve your grade point average was always available.

The Lompoc Unified School District board of education and school administrators should stop worrying about declaring sanctuary status for “undocumented children” or providing “safe spaces” and bathrooms for gender confused students, and start worrying about properly equipping students for their roles in our society.

Let’s “make America great again” by starting to educate our youth. Teaching is more than just a job; it is a special skill that demands complete dedication to the task at hand; and being a student is serious business.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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