Lynn Beck, dean of the School of Education for University of the Pacific, spoke at the American Association of University Women Lodi branch’s monthly meeting held at the United Christian Congregational Church on Sept. 18.
Beck talked about factors that are affecting education in the San Joaquin area today, including the many changes of superintendents, changes and conflicts within school boards, inadequacy of the testing programs, and the major decline in resources available to support teaching, learning and services to children.
She said California is one of four states where funding has declined by more than 20 percent in the past two years. She pointed out that although the API test scores for Stockton Unified, Lodi Unified and Lincoln Unified have steadily increased over the past eight years, some districts are failing because their gains have not increased to the level expected for that district.
Beck pointed out that the economic downturn has had a devastating effect on students. The foreclosure crisis has increased student mobility, created family stress and led to the breakdown of traditional support structures.
She concluded that the schools in this region are right in the center of a perfect storm of factors threatening the wellbeing of districts.
However, she said it is possible to turn districts around. Beck said that concerned citizens can elect good board members, volunteer time in schools or in community agencies that support schools, recognize that school improvement is slow-going and celebrate small successes. She said we should remember that schools are the only entities in the U.S. that provide free, universal access, that school districts are required to operate in the black, and that they possess a steady record of improvement despite increasingly difficult conditions.
The next AAUW meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at O’Connor Woods in Stockton. It will be a joint meeting with the Stockton branch and the program will be a discussion of the ballot propositions by the League of Women Voters. Lunch of a chicken or vegetarian entree can be ordered for $16 and paid at the door.
For more information about the October meeting or to make lunch reservations, contact Margie Paulsen at 209-334-4443. For information about membership, contact Sharon Ceresa at 209-481-3007.