14 May 2006

The Jurislator

Some judges aren't happy just being judges, they have legislator envy. So I'm going to call these folks, jurislators from now on.

The latest jurislator, doing his jurislating best, to jurislate from the bench is Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert B. Freedman (not to be confused with legendary scorer (and NBA player with the best name, ever), World B. Free).

And just to show that I'm equal opportunity in disdain for jurislators, Judge Freedman is a Gov. Pete Wilson appointee (though, Freedman is a registered Democrat). Also this article from the San Jose Mercury News, mentions that there are some clouds hanging over Judge Freedman's head
The judge being watched by educators and high school seniors struggling to pass the exam is working under the cloud of a judicial ethics investigation that accuses him of failing to decide cases in a timely fashion and falsifying administrative documents about his workload. And even with that investigation looming, Freedman this year was assigned to a crucial post, handling the most complex civil legal issues in the sprawling East Bay court system.
I haven't seen any of the pieces regarding this ruling that explain the legal basis for the decision. Instead we get emotional statments like this one quoting Judge Freedman in the Sacramento Business Journal
Alameda Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman noted the "potentially devastating effects" of being denied a diploma, and said that as a result of "system wide disparities as to 'opportunities to learn' the material tested, the Court concludes that an injunction that may result in a windfall benefit to some is preferable to the alternative of no relief for those who are truly victims of a system which, although it shows signs of recovery, is still unwell."

So the system is "still unwell", that doesn't mean that there is a legal basis to assume that the test itself is discriminatory, which I'm assuming will be the grounds for ignoring the exit exam. I think the federal government should get very firm with California and threaten to pull all federal funds for education if the state government doesn't appeal this decision.

Also, contrary to the Judge's statement, the "potentially devastating effects" aren't the lack of a diploma that some of these students face, but the crappy education that they have received. A piece of paper won't patch over this lack The diplomas of the tens of thousands students, who despite going to crappy schools still passed this test of minimal competency in core curricula, will be devalued by giving the same diploma to idiots who can't even pass this simple exit exam.

If there are legitimate legal grounds for this decision, I haven't heard them espoused yet, instead this looks like another example of jurislating, from yet another jurislator.

Grrrrrr. Arrrggggh.

PDFs of student study guides for this 'unfair' exit exam are available, here (1,375kb PDF) for the Math portion, and here (4,479kb PDF) for the English-Language Arts portion. Read it and decide for yourself if you are comfortable with the idea that folks who can't pass this exam are qualified to call themselves High School Graduates.

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