The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, April 19, 2008

California State Public School System in Jeopardy

It is strange, sometimes, to see, from afar, the priorities of another country. America has built itself on the ingenuity and energy of its people (and the immigrants they managed to attract) - yet those who decide on education matters, there, sometimes seem to forget this.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing 4 BILLION dollars of cuts in the education budget, in attempt to balance state finance, in the face of its housing crisis and stagnant economy. For those who may not know, I should point out that this does not mean that the education system was over-funded to start with. It is just that he has to find cuts somewhere and thinks he can find them in schools.

California needs its teachers but doesn't appear to value them. Apparently, every year, it has become traditional for many teachers to receive pink slips, in the Spring (before March 15, according to State law), informing them that they might soon be fired. This is done to prepare them for the possibility of losing their jobs. Many of them, in past years, did not, in fact, go on to lose their jobs - but they were informed just so that the state had the option of firing them.

What do you think this does to the morale of teachers in California public education? It must be terrible. No doubt they feel undervalued and insecure. In sending this message to the teachers that they are of no value, I have no doubt that that will affect what happens in the classroom. A demoralized teacher is hardly likely to be an inspired or inspiring one. No doubt this annual and rather cruel ritual negatively impacts teaching throughout the California state education system.

About 14,000 Californian teachers have just received pink slips. Some of these are even award winning teachers like Lincoln High's Guillermo Gomez, 37, who was declared a San Diego County Teacher of the Year in 2006 for his work in suburban Chula Vista. Not even being talented in the classroom, is protection against these latest cuts.

Other states are stepping in to offer signing bonuses to Californian teachers, to lure them away.

What effect will all of this have on Californian education? Well, firing so many teachers will not change the number of students - but it will logically increase class sizes and the workload on the remaining teachers. This will prompt some of those teachers to give up teaching as the job becomes too much - or leave for another state. Thus, it could be the beginning of a viscious circle.

One thing is certain: the quality of public education will decline further in California. Is this wise? Can America afford to have a poorer educated population when it already has one that is poorly educated, by international standards (see the PISA OECD education report, I have referred to elsewhere in this blog. America was outshone by very modest countries, on the education front.)

The damage done to the education of California's children, by such cuts, is cumulative and not easy to change.

From a foreign perspective, it is strange to see a country built on great minds, take so little care of future ones. I only hope that the cuts eventually come from somewhere else in the state budget, than education.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and four months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and nine months, and Tiarnan, twenty-six months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind, niño, gênio criança, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:06 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...


This erosion of the education system in California has been going on for years. Proposition 13 in 1978 was a huge blow (see )

These recent cuts will not initiate a vicious cycle as you suggest. We are already circling the drain.

In my kids' school the cuts will further reduce or eliminate already underfunded programs. (see )
Note that the GATE program--our gifted and talented program--is on the chopping block.

Keep in mind that although CA is 46th in per pupil spending, that does not take into account that the cost of living is much higher here than in other parts of the country.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for the greater detail on the situation in California. What a situation.

So, it seems, that only those able to pay for private schooling have a chance at an education worth having there?

10:07 AM  

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