California Educator

October 09

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safeguard district revenue lim- it funding. The QEIA funding was guaranteed as part of the July state budget agreement along with an additional year of funding. Under a court settlement brought by CTA in 2006, the administration agreed to provide $402 million annu- ally in non-Proposition 98 funding. CTA filed the law- suit when the Schwarzeneg- ger administration refused Race to the Top update W hen hidden threats to public education, the teaching profes- sion and our students con- tained in the federal “Race to the Top” education grant program surfaced this sum- mer, CTA staff and members mo bi lize d t o show t he impact to schools and to slow down the rush to over- haul education policy to qualify to apply for the one- time grants. California’s voices were heard in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C., as the U.S. Department of Education has delayed the timeline for adopt- ing final guidelines. The de- partment was overwhelmed by the number of responses and needs more time for review. Teachers statewide continued to mobilize on this vital issue, while some testified at various to repay moneys owed to public education as a result of the suspension of Propo- sition 98 in 2004-05. CTA has been joined in its advocacy for a solution to the problem by its statewide Edu- cation Coalition partners, whose more than 1 million members include parents, school employees, school board members, and other public ed- ucation supporters. len Feldman legislative hearings. In a speech to 300 educa- tors at the CTA Region 1 Leadership Conference on Oct. 2 in Santa Clara, CTA President David A. Sanchez noted that he has met with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a few times now to voice teachers’ concerns. “CTA has been successful at getting the Legislature to slow down and engage in serious conversation before making sweeping changes to our edu- cation policies,” Sanchez said. “The whole rushed process was slowed only after CTA launched an aggressive advo- cacy and public information campaign about the conse- quences of Race to the Top. CTA leaders recently met with Secretary Duncan a number of times and are working closely with NEA on a national level.” A deluge of responses to the draft guidelines by Cali- fornia, NEA and other states put the brakes on the process. Making states eligible for the $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants requires they meet criteria that could hurt stu- dents, schools and the teach- ing profession. California would be required to overhaul academic content standards that took seven years — and about $6 billion to draft and enact — to qualify for up to $500 million in federal fund- ing. The state would have to create a new testing system, mandate that teacher evalua- tions be based “significantly” on student test scores, limit options to help our lower- performing schools, and al- low unlimited expansion of charter schools. Hearings held around the state as part of the governor’s special session on RTTT in- cluded testimony by Camille Zombro, president of the San Diego Education Association. Zombro and CTA Board member Jim Groth, a teacher in Chula Vista, authored a column published in the Sept. 18 San Diego Union-Tribune that lamented how this feder- al program bore the same one-size-fits-all flaws of No Child Left Behind, the failed reform ef fort of President George W. Bush. Zombro and Groth wrote, “Unfortunately, when educa- tors tell our stories, explain our challenges, and reveal the real damage done by unprov- en reforms, we’re dismissed as roadblocks. Far from it — we are crying for Californians to join us in standing up for our schools and students. Educa- tion professionals take great pride in the work we do to build the future for San Di- ego’s children. We understand that a child’s education is a journey, not a race. In races there are winners and losers. We cannot afford to lose any of our children in the pursuit of providing a quality educa- tion for every child.” CTA believes it is important left: CTA Board member Mike Stone took the microphone to remind Secretary Arne Duncan that California has worked hard to implement some of the most rigorous standards in the nation and urged the secretary to find ways to allow the state to maintain its standards and still qualify for the desperately needed additional funding. to continue working with the administration and to ensure that the voices of educators are heard. There must be multiple options for evaluating students and teachers, and there must be flexibility for states and local school districts. mike myslinski october 2009 | 33

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