California’s Brown Vetoes SB 547 Reform Bill

"While I applaud the author's desire to improve the API, I don't believe that this bill would make the state's accountability regime either more probing or more fair" writes California Governor Jerry Brown, in an explanation for his veto of a sweeping education reform bill.

Brown claims that the legislation — SB547 — would have done nothing to improve the quality of schools, with its proposed reduced reliance on standardized test scores to evaluate students and schools.

He believes that the legislation's replacement of California's current Academic Performance Index, called the Education Quality Index, still relied too much on data.

"SB547 nowhere mentions good character or love of learning," said Brown. "It does allude to student excitement and creativity, but does not take these qualities seriously because they can't be placed in a data stream. Lost in the bill's turgid mandates is any recognition that quality is fundamentally different from quantity."

The legislation would have let standardized test scores account for no more than 40 percent of an evaluation in high school and no less than 40 percent in K-8. Other measures of quality would have been added, including dropout rates and graduation rates, writes Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post.

Jerry Brown is perhaps the most powerful leader in our country who actually understands what has happened to our schools as a result of standards-based data-driven reform, writes Anthony Cody at Education Matters.

Brown elaborated on his reasoning for nixing SB547:

"SB547 would also add significant costs and confusion to the implementation of the newly-adopted Common Core standards which must be in place by 2014. This bill would require us to introduce a whole new system of accountability at the same time we are required to carry out extensive revisions to school curriculum, teaching materials and tests. That doesn't make sense."

Brown suggested as an alternative a system that relies on locally convened panels to visit schools, observe teachers, interview students and examine student work. "Such a system wouldn't produce an API number, but it could improve the quality of our schools."

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