Report: Calif. education system worsening

January 3, 2008 9:10:39 AM PST
California parents will be disappointed with a report card released today on the state of the state's children.

The grades were mostly Cs and Ds and not enough Bs in subjects like children's health, education and safety, according to the report's author, Oakland-based nonpartisan organization Children Now.

The group says its research finds children's health and education in the state as "generally poor" and warns of worsening conditions in the face of a budget deficit.

The report, which can be viewed online at www.childrennow.org/reportcard, gave the state a D-plus on the subject of childhood obesity, claiming one in three children in California is overweight or obese.

The state also got a D-plus in child safety and C-minuses in early childcare, K-12 education, health insurance, oral health and number of asthma cases.

The state's highest grade was a B-plus in after school education. The report states, "More California children than ever have access to after school programs, although ensuring program quality remains a challenge."

The state got a pair of B-minuses in infant and adolescent health and Cs in mental healthcare and health insurance. The state "has reduced the number of uninsured children by half since the early 1990s ... yet 763,000 children still do not have health insurance in California," according to the report.

The report also makes the striking claims that only 47 percent of children ages 3 and 4 attend preschool, that just 65 percent of high school students graduate on time, that 37 percent of children ages 2 to 5 did not visit a dentist within the last year and that fewer than half of families can afford the basics of housing, childcare, food, health insurance and transportation.

"The health and education of California's kids are at a pivotal point," Ted Lempert, Children Now president, said in a statement. "It's now known that big, bold changes are the only way to improve outcomes for our children and society. We are looking for a strong commitment from the governor and the Legislature to making comprehensive, systemic reforms to children's health and education in 2008."


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