California Educator


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 31 of 39

CTA moves carefully with Race to the Top C TA representatives from every California legisla- tive district have been contacting their state law- makers to deliver a simple message: Legislators should carefully consider any revi- sions to state education law related to the Race to the Top (RTTT) federal grant pro- gram. Educators fear that a headlong race to change could become a rush to fail- ure. The flurry of state legis- lative activity follows Con- gress’s passage of the federal s t imulus package — the American Recovery and Rein- vestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) — which funds the RTTT competitive grant program for public schools. States can apply for por t ions of the overall $4.35 billion in grant money only if their state edu- cation laws conform to feder- ally mandated regulations. While the federal govern- ment has not yet adopted those implementing regulations, lawmakers in many states, in- cluding California, are rushing to propose changes to their state laws in hopes of qualify- ing for the federal money. In some cases, changes have been driven by what state education officials believe are erroneous interpretations of state law by federal officials. CTA leaders have met with Obama administration offi- cials, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, to help provide a clearer under- s t anding of Ca lifornia’s s t ringent education and accountability requirements, widely recognized as being among the toughest in the nation. The California Legis- lature has approved and the governor has signed one mea- sure to delete a sentence in the Education Code perceived by federal officials to be a bar- rier to California’s being able to apply (see story below). CTA and its Education Co- alition partners have been urg- ing legislators not to hastily approve any omnibus mea- sures, including one drafted by state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction. Sen. Rome- ro’s bill, a special session bill called SBx5 1, would make wide-ranging changes to The measure would: • • • • • • • Lock into state law unnecessary changes Sen. Romero claims are needed to implement Race to the Top, even before the federal regulations governing the program have been adopted. Repeat the mistakes of the fatally flawed No Child Left Behind Act, including the overreliance on test scores as the only measure of student achievement. Modify regulations governing the entire School Improvement Grant (SIG) Program in hopes of helping California get one-time RTTT funds, but it would also cause schools to lose SIG money if they do not comply with the new state regulations. Force irresponsible and punitive changes in teacher and administrator evaluations. Allow unfettered increases in underregulated charter schools that are not responsible to the community. Substitute narrow compliance in place of innovation and local flexibility vital to schools’ success. Increase costs and mandates at a time when schools are staggering under $17 billion in cuts and 20,000 educator layoffs. CTA members can help win this fight by contacting their state legislators and urging them to move deliberately on any RTTT-related changes. See for more information and links to your lawmakers. teacher evaluation and student achievement measurements and remove the caps on the number of charter schools in the state. Len FeLDmAn Why SBx5 1 is flawed drafted federal regulations has cleared the Legislature and gained the governor’s approval. The measure, SB 19, by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Santa Clara), deletes a sentence in the state’s Education Code that for- bids using a state education database for purposes of teacher evaluation or pay. SB 19 is intended to respond to a provision of the federal law implementing Race to the Top — the American Recovery and Re- SB 19 signed into law by governor T he first of the bills to “bring California into compli- ance” with the not-yet- investment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The federal provision allows states to apply for the $4.35 bil- lion RTTT competitive grant program only if they have no “statutory or regulatory barriers to linking data about student growth and achievement to teachers for the purposes of teacher and principal evalua- tion.” The target of the change was a sentence in the Education Code section that created CALTIDES — the California Longitudinal Teacher Integrated Data Educa- tion System — perceived to be 32 California Educator | november 2009 such a barrier to linking student data to evaluations. CTA legal experts point out that SB 19’s deletion of an Edu- cation Code sentence regarding the use of CALTIDES data in teacher evaluations “has no di- rect impact on any evaluation provisions in collective bargain- ing agreements. It does not su- persede, nullify or require any changes to existing language that has been collectively bar- gained. It does not change exist- ing Education Code provisions regarding evaluation, nor does it mandate making a change in evaluation procedures.” CTA experts also point out that evaluation procedures are within the scope of bargaining, and districts cannot unilaterally change their procedures. The ex- perts also note that the Education Code has long provided for col- lectively bargained processes by which educators’ evaluations re- flect the progress of their students in relation to state standards. Len FeLDmAn To read more about SB 19, see our story “The facts about Senate Bill 19” on page 13.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - NOVEMBER 09