Monday, August 09, 2004

How would Arnold Schwarzenegger score on a standardized test?

Governor Schwarzenegger has slashed public education budgets, which has led to cutbacks in teachers in public schools and in CA colleges. His administration is now planning on raising tuition across the board for CA college students. However, Governor Schwarzenegger seems to enjoy his reputation as a supporter of education. The Governor claims he has worked hard to alleviate the financial crisis CA education is facing and also boasts about his relationships with leading CA “educrats” such as Barbara Kerr and Carla NiƱa. He also gave his crony and former LA mayor Richard Riordan the job as Secretary of the CA Dept. of Education.

Yet I doubt that many rational educators would agree that Schwarzenegger is an ally of CA education. And though he may be a talented “thespian” and an expert bodybuilder, I suspect that Arnold would be unable to attain a decent score on the SAT. What about an easier standardized test, such as the CBEST? I will assert, hypothetically, that Arnold Schwarzenegger could not pass the CBEST. The CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test) is required for all those people who desire to obtain a teaching credential or enter the teaching profession. It is not very difficult—it tests reading comprehension, reasoning skills, essay writing, and basic algebra and math skills. Yet 30 to 40 percent of CA college students still fail the CBEST.

It would seem that if teachers must pass some sort of basic test such as the CBEST to teach (aspiring lawyers and doctors also must pass rigorous entrance exams), then politicians—who have far more of an impact on children and citizens--should also have to meet basic educational requirements. A college degree requirement for, say, congressmen and representatives is a good start. Yet even many college grads. manage to finish a degree without developing any substantial writing skills or math skills. Thus the CBEST-type of screening test would prevent those humans who managed to weasel through a BA or BS from getting into positions of power. Don’t we want policy makers that can do statistics, read and write effectively, and make informed economic decisions? Or is politics now simply a matter of popularity and mass appeal.

Arnold Schwarzenegger—and really all people in positions of administrative or political power—thus should should be required to demonstrate and indeed verify his educational skills, his administrative abilities, and, really, his logical acumen by taking and passing the CBEST or something like it.

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