A few months ago, I noted how California Gov. Jerry Brown had delivered an early Christmas gift to the teachers’ unions by “deeming” a bunch of kids as “graduated” despite their never having actually met the state’s graduation requirements. Basically just bypassing the state’s own education standards and saying “whatever, here’s your participation degree.”
It turns out the situation is even worse than that post outlined. Much, much worse. While there was some justification for deeming students who hadn’t passed their graduation exam this year graduated anyway, since there were contracting issues with the exam provider, it turns out that it wasn’t just those kids Brown was preparing to deem “graduated.” As the Daily Caller reports:
The state of California is poised to award thousands of high school degrees to dropouts by passing a new law retroactively removing the requirement to pass a high school exit exam.
The California High School Exit Exam (CASHEE) was created in 2004, and is intended to make sure that students have a rudimentary grasp of English and mathematics before being awarded a high school diploma, and to counter the phenomenon of students receiving passing grades while learning almost nothing. The test is hardly complex.
But now, a bill passed Thursday by the California legislature, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign, suspends the exam through 2018, while also retroactively suspending it back to 2004. That means thousands of students who failed to ever pass the exam but otherwise completed all other requirements will now be able to receive diplomas.
Yes, they are going back in time and declaring people who previously were unable to pass a surpassingly simple exit exam to prove they had learned something in school are now magically fit and competent and educated and graduated. The timeline consequences won’t be quite killing-baby-Hitleresque, but they will be dramatic. Just look at the numbers. (Note: author’s suggestion to “look at the numbers” assumes one is not a dropout-deemed-graduate in California.)
Anywhere from 40,000 to about 250,000 people who weren’t graduated before because they couldn’t pass the test could now be eligible to graduate, meaning that California is inevitably going to give thousands more people who are not ready for either work or college a piece of paper that most people think means, you know, that they are. And of course, the expectation is that therefore those so deemed will be employed by companies that will, it being California and all, pay them more than the federal minimum wage and things like that. Because of science, people!
Now, here’s the interesting part and the news in this post. While it seemed that when this whole deembacle was going down it wasn’t much noticed outside of RedState, the Daily Caller, California media and perhaps a few education policy nerds, in reality this action taken by Gov. Brown was noticed. And by people who are kind of a big deal.
These somebodies want some provisions stuck into the reform of “No Child Left Behind” that has been wending its way through Congress for approximately 25 years now that might enable someone to do something about it if California keeps doing dumb stuff like this in the future since, let’s be honest, unions and their liberal lapdogs run the state and they don’t want any eighteen year-olds having to do anything too hard like get a 55% on a test replete with 8th grade or lower math questions. I mean come on, have you even HEARD of the #MillionStudentMarch?? (If you are deemed a graduate in California, a million is like, a really big number you guys.)
Those noticeable people who noticed this are essentially the employers who will be asked to employ these redeemed grads. The people that unions and liberals, who remember created this problem in the first place, will chastise for not hiring enough or paying enough, even when the prospective employee pool can’t figure out the gross annual pay of a person earning $15 an hour and working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year. (If you’re following along at home, that works out to less than one million students but more than five smiley face stickers.)
Now, I’m told by a source tracking the NCLB overhaul bills in Congress that California’s action in graduating all these kids, and retroactively suspending the exam requirement, was noticed by a lot of big employers. These people are less than pleased with Jerry Brown, and that that has influenced what certain business groups are hinting at when they talk about including some accountability provisions in the reform legislation. Is it possible that these folks are also concerned about more actions like those taken by Brown occurring in the future? You know, depending on, ahem, who ends up in the White House? Maybe. Certainly, they should be.
We’re already talking a lot about how to improve the lot of the average American in this presidential campaign. Democrats, who are in league with teachers’ unions (especially Clinton, who the AFT and NEA have always preferred, even over Obama, and who is now doing their bidding by going around attacking charter schools and the like), basically think the answer is to give unions more power, and take more of your money and spend it on more wasteful things (oftentimes to the benefit of their political benefactors). Republicans are talking about things that make sense.
One thing is for sure: The more dumbing-down of education we have like that in California, the worse off many people in the country will end up being. What Brown did matters, and the people paying wages and offering benefits know it. It’s time for conservatives to start monitoring these things more closely.
Otherwise, we’re not just going to have too many philosophers and not enough welders, we’re going to have a bunch of bad philosophers all making $15 dollars an hour selling red Starbucks holiday cups in flimsy buildings with unwelded joints. Then we’re really talking about not having a Safe Space.