Anthony York ( Capitol Weekly, Oct. 9, “State budget: The deficit that never seems to end”) quotes Senate Leader Don Perata as saying that “the options are all bad.” Maybe not. Maybe the budget problem will encourage us to save some money by eliminating programs that aren’t doing any good. Here are two that waste student and teacher time as well as wasting money:
The first: The High School Exit Exam. California spends about $250 million each year just for remedial instruction for this exam, and millions more for administration and scoring. Recent research done by scholars at Indiana University has shown that state high school exit exams do not lead to more college completion, higher employment, or higher earnings by graduates. Researchers at UC Davis and the University of Minnesota have reported that exit exams do not result in improved
academic achievement. In fact, researchers
have yet to discover any benefits of having a High School Exit Exam.
Second: Forcing second graders to take high-stakes standardized tests. No Child Left Behind does not require testing second graders, and there is no evidence that it does anybody any good, except for test publishers. There is, in fact, no clear evidence showing that high-stakes tests in elementary school result in higher achievement, and it is likely that our teachers are much better at evaluating students than are strangers miles away, some of whom have never spent a day in a room with seven year olds.
Taking these two steps would probably save about a billion dollars every few years, and might inspire similar proposals for additional savings.
Stephen Krashen, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
In Scott Hauge's op-ed ("California's greenhouse gas law benefits small business," Capitol Weekly, Oct. 9), he offers a "full-throated endorsement" of California's plan to address greenhouse gas emissions. While we fully support the goals of AB 32, we cannot endorse an Air Resources Board staff proposal without having answers to some very critical questions about how the plan will impact small businesses.
It is our responsibility as representatives of small business to question, analyze, review and at times improve the proposals for new government initiatives that are going to affect our members. On the national level with this financial crisis, we are seeing what happens when questions are not asked and polices are not fully vetted.
Many commitments were made in the passage of the AB 32 legislation. For example, CARB promised to hold small business workshops and conduct a detailed economic analysis – both of these promises remain unmet and the deadline is fast approaching for CARB to cast their final vote locking in the implementation scoping plan.
The current economic crisis is causing business failures, higher unemployment and lower revenues. While small businesses are struggling with lower profits and higher costs, we have serious concerns about the significant financial investments that will be required upfront under CARB's scoping plan. We hope that the program will result in cost reductions and job creation in 2020, however, we are worried about the next 12 years. The costs associated with this program are real, but we are concerned that the benefits are speculative and far away.
This is not a question of political loyalty or lack of support for the goals of AB 32. Many small business organizations have reached out to the Administration and CARB to ask for more information and to engage in a productive dialogue. It is too bad that Small Business California has chosen not to be part of this effort to find meaningful, cost-effective solutions for the small businesses in our state. As small business representatives we have a fundamental interest in a full examination of the costs and benefits that will come with every aspect of the program. This implementation effort is going to dramatically impact our business environment and our quality of life – from energy costs, taxes and transportation to food prices and even housing choices. We owe it to workers, small business owners and families across the state to make sure that we do this right.
John Kabateck, National Federation of Independent Business
Joel Ayala, California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Matt Sutton, California Restaurant Association
John Handley, California Independent Grocers Association
Mary Griffin, National Association of Women Business Owners, Sacramento Valley
Ruben Guerra, Latin Business Association