Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

Vergara: How bad is California?

The Vergara decision is a smack in the chops to how California does public education. Is education in California really all that bad?

Yes. It’s not fair to call California’s K-12 system a total failure, but California certainly way under performs. California is a rich state with below average academic achievement. Here’s a picture of math test scores for California and the nation as a whole. Children of more highly educated parents score better everywhere, of course. The take-away of the chart is that California trails in the country for every level of parental education.

california naep scoresBy the way, California also trails the nation in these NAEP scores for the following ethnic groups: whites, blacks, and Hispanics.

If you’re a regular reader, this is where you should be expecting me to say that the problem is that California under pays its teachers. Well California does under pay teachers, but not nearly so badly as the rest of the nation. I’ve made a chart showing teacher salaries relative to average salaries for college-educated, full-time workers. California outpays the nation on this metric–by a lot.

relative teacher salaries

I’m not a great fan of making public policy by court mandate, at least not in something as complicated as running the public schools. But the fact is education in California isn’t working, and the folks running it need to be shaken up.

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