Aim for student gains

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The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District and the Santa Monica Community College school boards seem to be all about spending more of our money than what we have available. The communities of Malibu and Santa Monica need to mutiny and circulate a referendum, just like the proponents of more money for schools, to endorse better choices with the money we already have.

Local school spending has risen three times faster than the rate of inflation in California, while overall local student performance has fallen steadily. Teacher salaries in the local school districts are based on how long teachers have been teaching, not how well they do their job. Less than half of the dollars are used for basic instruction and little money is spent for industrial arts. Are we, the inhabitants of Malibu and Santa Monica, really buying more value for our students with the balance of the money that is funneled to our schools? Do SMMUSD parents want to raise unintelligent children? No!

In the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District alone, more than half of the high school graduates, who go on to Santa Monica Community College, must take remedial courses in reading, writing and math. This is just to prepare them for community college-level work! In a recent proposition, Santa Monica-Malibu taxpayers voted for and gave the SMMUSD a second parcel tax on our property, but few dollars of the money are being spent in the classroom. Three years ago we gave Santa Monica College 160 million additional dollars for the college and now the voter will be asked to provide the college with a supplementary 165 million dollars of taxpayers’ money.

More money and higher teacher and administrator salaries does not mean higher academic achievement. Instead of our school boards focusing on “input” (more money and more teachers), they should be focusing on “output” (student achievement and better test results).

And that is all I have to say.

Tom Fakehany