Mailbag: Parental education not biggest factor in API scores

As a former teacher in a very low-income Santa Ana school with very poorly educated parents, I agree with Tom Egan's commentary ("Like it or not, parental education influences API scores," Nov. 30) that parent education is a factor in poor Academic Performance Index levels (API). However, not at the 81% level he quoted.

Look at the data of four schools in Costa Mesa: Wilson, Pomona, Rea and Whittier elementary schools. Each has a parent-education factor of about a 1.6, which means that the parents have less than a high school education.

Then look at the data for four elementary schools in Santa Ana Unified School District: Carl Harvey, George Washington Carver, James Madison and George Washington. Their parent-education factor is only about two-tenths of a point higher, which means those parents also have less than a high school education.

The average 2011 API scores for the four schools in Costa Mesa is 712, and the average 2011 API scores for the four schools in Santa Ana is 830, a difference of 118 points with virtually the same parent-education factor.

Santa Ana also has two National Blue Ribbon Schools: John Muir Fundamental, with an API score of 894, and Jim Thorpe Fundamental with an API score of 901.

Both of these Santa Ana schools have parents that average a 2.54 education level, which means they have graduated from high school. Compare them to Woodland, California, and Newport elementary schools, which has an average parent education level of 3.5, close to an associate's degree.

These N-MUSD schools scored 30 to 70 points lower than the two schools in Santa Ana whose parents have less education, are less fluent in English and are less affluent in general. Also the two Santa Ana schools have a higher student-teacher ratio.

Yes, parent education is a factor, but not the 81% level indicated in Egan's commentary. Instead of replacing all the parents as he suggests (tongue in cheek, I assume), his article raises a question in my mind: Why doesn't Newport-Mesa study what other schools have done with similar demographic numbers to achieve their higher scores?

Is it possible that misplaced pride is keeping Newport-Mesa from learning from other school districts?

Martie O'Meara

Costa Mesa


Politicians count on our apathy

Are the taxpayers all so well off that no amount of financial abuse and tax increases adversely impacts most of us? It is past time for taxpayer organizations and Tea Party groups to have a massive demonstration demanding a cease and roll back of all this financial insanity going on in most cities, the county and state. I suggest these organizations have a massive rally of we the taxpayers at some central public place that has plenty of free parking. Where are the leaders of these organizations and the few really conservative politicians?

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach

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