California Educator


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 24 of 39

LAUSD Superintendent Ra- mon Cortines demanding that voting occur at all affected school sites in order to allow parents with transportation is- sues to participate. UTLA also raised serious concerns about charters and their history of excluding some neighborhood students and students with special needs. “Having strong public schools that serve all children in the neighborhood is vital to the future of our students and our community,” said Duffy, a former special educat ion teacher himself. Exemplifying those concerns, the California Charter Schools Association objected strongly as the dis- trict added student enrollment acceptance and financial dis- closure requirements on po- CTA-opposed Race to the Top bills enacted O ver CTA objections, law- makers have approved and the governor has signed the amended versions of two CTA-opposed bills that could harm every classroom in the state while ostensibly mak- ing California more competi- tive for up to $1 billion in one- time federal money that the state has applied for in its Race to the Top (RTTT) program application. During the process, CTA and its allies were able to mitigate the impact of several counterproductive proposals in the original version of a mea- sure authored by Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles). Even so, the final version of her new bill, SBx5 4, contains two extremely bad provisions. The two special session RTTT measures are SBx5 1 by Senate President pro Tem Dar- rell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Education Chair Julia Brownley (D-Santa Mon- ica), and SBx5 4 by Sen. Rome- ro. The two measures were signed by the governor in an elaborate signing ceremony in a Los Angeles-area school in January with “fantastic” prom- ises about their projected posi- tive effect on schools. Even though the measures have been enacted, if Califor- nia actually wins any of the RTTT program funding, dis- tricts will be required to nego- tiate with local chapters over implementation issues. CTA is providing bargaining advice and suppor t to chapters to prepare them for such nego- tiations. Regardless of whether Cali- fornia receives any of the RTTT funding, school districts will have to implement the two most onerous parts of SBx5 4: open enrol lment between school districts and the “parent trigger.” The open enrollment provisions allow students in up to 1,000 specified “low-per- forming schools” to transfer to “higher-achieving” schools in districts around the state. The parent trigger requires a local school board to consider a par- ent petition to implement one of four federal sanctions and to address the continuing failure of a low-performing school. These provisions would affect up to 75 schools statewide. What the final bills do SBx5 1 makes comprehen- sive changes to the Education Code relating to standards and assessment, data systems to support instruction, great teachers and leaders, and low- est-achieving schools. CTA supported some of these con- cepts that were in the provi- sions of Assembly Member Brownley’s original bill. One good element of SBx5 1 is that it creates the Academic Stan- dards Commission, which will tential charter operators. At Hillcrest and the other include practicing public educators in the review of Cali- fornia’s content standards. Ul- timately, California will need to align those standards with the core common standards be- ing drafted by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Asso- ciation. The RTTT application requires California to be in- volved in the National Aca- demic Content Standards Project and to conform at least 85 percent of its standards to the national standards. CTA warned that, taken to- gether, the two RTTT bills allow open enrol lment between school districts without any funding for transportation. The bills could force districts to use scarce classroom dollars to cover the costs of transporting students. The bills also create another unfunded state man- date at a time when schools are already reeling from $17 billion in education cuts. In addition, the parent trigger will punish lower-performing schools without providing need- ed funding or assistance. The measures will — in ex- change for the chance of capturing one-time federal funding — commit California’s districts to spend billions of dollars for the second, third, and additional years’ imple- mentation of the “reforms.” LEN FELDMAN sites, UTLA emphasized the teacher-community connec- tion and the opportunity to build a lasting partnership wi th parent s to improve LAUSD schools. Hillcrest was one of the few existing cam- puses with more than one out- side charter competing for control; most of the charter applications focused on new, as yet unstaffed schools, an in- dication that most had little interest in helping existing schools that are struggling. NEA and CTA gave addi- tional support to UTLA efforts through radio and print ads that urged the community to call their school board mem- bers to support the teacher-led plans. CTA and NEA also joined with UTLA and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in a joint organizing campaign that included direct mail and phone calls to voters in the targeted school neigh- borhoods. As the Educator went to press, preliminary advisory voting results showed UTLA plans had overwhelmingly won the parent, teacher, and student vote at all contested schools, and the community vote at all but four (“commu- nity” being somewhat ill-de- fined in the voting process). The voting results are not binding on the LAUSD board, but were strongly indicative of the high quality of the local teacher-developed plans and the deep support they have from parents. “We are here to defend our children,” said Jsané Tyler, whose daughter attends third grade at Hill- crest. “We deserve the right to reform our own school.” FRANK WELLS FEBRUARY 2010 | 25

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - FEBRUARY 2010