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Current Problems And Possible Solutions Concerning California Public

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What are some problems Heather Weidig

with our schools? English 1A

November 6, 2006

Current Problems and Possible Solutions Concerning California Public

Schools

The California public school system currently suffers from four

main problems. These areas of dysfunction are most generally

defined as follows: A chronic and widespread lack of textbook

materials for the student population; large-scale overcrowding,

concentrated especially in the schools of the state's marginalized

communities; a growing practice of admitting underqualified teachers

into California classrooms to deal with existing instructor shortages;

and finally, a festering trend of ill-equipped and over-extended

teaching facilities. These are serious problems that will only cause

the California public school system to deteriorate further if attempts

are not quickly made to deal with each specific area of dysfunction.

To begin, as referenced in Just Schools California's web page

article, "The Crisis", many California public schools do not have

enough textbooks to provide students with the ability to take their

textbooks home with them. The simple threat this shortage poses is

that oftentimes, no textbooks for students equals no homework for

them in these subjects, debilitating students' ability to fully

comprehend, practice, and display the new concepts they have

learned. As Just Schools explains, without textbooks, students miss

out on important information and the opportunity to learn more

through homework exercises and studying outside of school. They

are also less likely to do well on high-school exit exams and are illprepared

for college

Moreover, as California Performance Review notes in their web

page article "ETV14 Decrease the Cost of K - 12 Textbooks", the books

the school system does have are often outdated and are heavily worn

for wear (which results for example in missing pages, making the

process of understanding the material much more difficult). To be

sure, as California Performance Review also declares in the same

article:

more than half a million students do not have text books

to use in class and approximately two million students

cannot take textbooks home to do homework.

According to California Performance Review, this pattern is due in

part to the cost of textbooks, a sum which represents a large portion

of school district budgets.

Next is the problem of overcrowding in California public

schools. In the same article by Just Schools is stated, "more than 1.5

million students attend critically overcrowded schools". Logistically,

this makes learning difficult for the school system's students because

there are too many students for each to receive individual attention

from the school system's teachers, and students who have trouble

with the material in the classroom simply cannot get help from their

teachers. Worse still, some classes are so crowded that there are not

enough seats for all the students (Just Schools). The result of this, as

stated in the article "Ending School Overcrowding in California:

Building quality Schools for All Children" is :

Lunchrooms, libraries and an assortment of other spaces

are used for classrooms and attempts are made to

alleviate overcrowding by such temporary measures as

reorganizing - even shortening - school years, busing

children to other neighborhoods, and using portable

classrooms. (Colmenar, Estrada, Lo & Raya, 8).

Exacerbating this general trend, the pattern of overcrowding

falls disproportionately in areas where California students come from

marginalized communities; that is, students of color and students

from low-income families. This concentration of overcrowding

means that "children who attend overcrowded schools are less able

to learn, feel socially inferior and alienated, and are more exposed to

health and safety hazards ( Colmenar et al., 8)", deepening existing

rifts between socio-economic groups in the state.

The third area of dysfunction lies with the trend of instructor

underqualification in California classrooms. Because there has been

an intense shortage of teachers in California, the state will now allow

underqualified teachers to work in the classroom. As a result there

are startling numbers of under-prepared, uncredentialed teachers

currently working

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