Capitol Alert Insider Edition

Insider Access - Exclusive content for the Insider Edition iPad and iPhone apps

Note: Capitol Alert Insider Edition stories are for the exlusive use of subscribers of the service. You can subscribe with your iPhone or iPad in the App Store.
August 3, 2013
Editorial: Tutoring program another black eye for state oversight

MC_TUTORING_02.JPG

(Aug. 3 -- By the Editorial Board)

A poorly designed, dismally managed and federally financed tutoring program for struggling students is so broken that most states have dropped it. Not California.

California is one of five states that have not been able to obtain federal waivers to eliminate ineffective tutoring programs that school districts and state education officials concede are not working.

As The Bee's Melody Gutierrez reported last week, about 300 mostly for-profit tutoring companies operate in California. State education officials say they don't have the resources to do day-to-day oversight of these companies, so they rely on local school districts instead.

And school districts say they lack authority to remove programs that are ineffective. They can only disqualify those that fail to fill out paperwork correctly or meet the terms of their contracts. Even more baffling - and, frankly infuriating - federal law bars school districts from offering advice to parents about which programs are effective or from setting up their own programs staffed with their district's own certified teachers.

Under the federal "No Child Left Behind" law, California is required to offer tutorial services in school districts with large numbers of failing students. But the Obama administration has waived that requirement if states put a teacher evaluation process in place tied to student test scores. California has been unwilling to do so and the federal government has been unwilling to budge. So the state remains stuck with an expensive, ineffective tutoring program, and taxpayers, school districts, parents and - worst of all - students pay the price.

The fault lies, in part, with the federal government for failing to grant California its requested waiver.

But mostly, the fault lies with state's education bureaucrats for failure to provide effective oversight. Rampant waste, fraud and abuse in the state's school tutoring programs - like the rampant waste, fraud and abuse in the state's alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs reported last week by news organizations - raise fundamental questions about government in California.

In both cases, scam artists have been able to waltz into California and bilk the state and taxpayers of millions of dollars. And state officials paid to protect the public's interest seem unwilling or incapable of doing so. So while bad law and nonsensical rules play a role, the bigger issue here seems to be dysfunction in state government. That's an issue only the governor and the Legislature can address, and they need to.

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



November 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30