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The quality of education in California is declining and parents know who is the one to blame

The quality of education in California has gotten worse, a nationwide trend that has been seen in almost every state in recent years, including Texas and Florida, states that had the fewest COVID measures in place and experienced the fewest closures. The pandemic’s impact has created long-term challenges that will likely take significant time and resources to address before returning to pre-pandemic levels. This is something that many states are now focused on, especially looking to solve the teacher shortage problem that has emerged as a top priority.

How the country got here

Years after the initial pandemic-related school closures, many students, educators, and parents still find it challenging to achieve academic normalcy. The early years of the pandemic saw escalating COVID-19 cases, exacerbated by significant staff shortages, high absenteeism, and intermittent school closures. Even more than four years after the first COVID-19 cases, the educational community is grappling with mental health issues, increased violence and misconduct, and worries about the educational time lost during the pandemic.

The effects

A study released in January 2022 that measured the academic achievement of students since the early days of the pandemic found that the cumulative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ academic achievement has been large. The study found that there was a significant decline in academic achievements, a trend that only got worse in the following months. The study also found that observed declines are more substantial than during other recent school disruptions, such as those due to natural disasters.

The California problem

The quality of education in California is facing challenges that are both educational and political, according to recent feedback from parents. A survey by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that while 60% of parents still support Governor Gavin Newsom’s education policies, this is his lowest approval rating since 2019, having fallen by 13 points over the past two years. This suggests that Governor Newsom may be losing favor with this key demographic, complicating the situation further.

Read also: Texas, California, Florida with the highest number of people removed from Medicaid: 5.1 million

The numbers

Nearly half of all Californians believe that the quality of education in the state’s public schools for grades K-12 has deteriorated. Similarly, almost half of the parents with children in public schools feel that the state does not allocate enough funding to their local schools. The perception of Newsom’s handling of educational matters also varies significantly by geography. In major urban centers like Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, over half of the respondents approve of his efforts in education, with 55% and 54% approval respectively. However, in more rural areas, the approval ratings are lower. The division is clear among parents too, as 50% think the education system is on the right track while another 50% disagree.

The quality of education in California is facing challenges that are both educational and political, according to recent feedback from parents
Classroom, credit: Unsplash

The controversy

Governor Newsom has been implementing educational policies that support an LGBTQ+-friendly curriculum and has even suggested imposing fines on schools that fail to comply with California’s approved social studies standards. Furthermore, the state is considering reductions in educational and school program funding as part of an effort to address its significant budget deficit. Such spending cuts are likely to impact educational quality negatively, particularly as many parents already believe more funding is necessary for improvements.

Read also: California local official blames Border Patrol for being immigrants’ Uber: “We just can’t sustain it!”

The political perspective

Governor Newsom continues to hold strong support and job approval overall in California, but things are changing. A new law that went into effect this month set a $20 minimum wage for all fast-food workers, leading to considerable discontent among Californians. This law resulted in the closure of many restaurant locations and higher prices at those remaining open. Amid these tensions, it was disclosed that a restaurant owned by Newsom’s company was advertising job positions at $16 an hour, substantially less than the new minimum wage for fast-food employees.

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