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Race to the Top bill helps state qualify for funds T he California Legislature is considering two bi l ls designed to help California become eligible for up to $700 million in federal Race to the Top (RTTT) program funding. The CTA-supported bill — ABx5 8, by Assembly Education Chair Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) — offers the state the best chance for maximizing its score on the appli- cation and qualifying for the fed- eral appropriations, which are part of an overall $4.35 billion in grant money awarded to states that con- form to federally mandated regu- lations. The second bill, SBx5 1 by Sen. Gloria Romero, would undermine local control and drain money from classrooms. CTA points out that the Brownley bill will also build on California’s rigorous standards and synchronize those already existing elements of state law with the federal requirements. “The Assembly bill will put California in the best position to qualify for the federal funding program,” says CTA President David A. Sanchez. “We commend Assembly Speaker Karen Bass for working with parents and educa- tors to draft legislation that will build upon California’s already rigorous education standards and accountability system and create a coherent system of school reform.” The Brownley bill employs multiple measures of student achievement to improve the state’s assessment and testing system. It also works to shrink the achievement gap and im- proves school instruction and leadership. The bill also increas- es the fiscal and performance ••• • • Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools (50 points maximum). General, including ensuring charter school accountability (55 points). accountability of the state’s charter schools. State RTTT applications will be judged based on a 500-point scale, with points awarded in various categories, including State Success Factors; Standards and Assessments; Great Teach- ers and Leaders; Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools; and a “General” cate- gory that includes accountabil- ity for charter schools. In an effort to help inform legislators and legislative staff members about the financial and instructional elements of the federal plan, CTA Govern- mental Relations, along with fiscal expert John Mockler, held a briefing in early December. The briefing is part of the divi- sion’s aggressive legislative rela- tions outreach on ABx5 8 and the federal program. A key element of the CTA brief- *This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. ing was to remind legislators and staff of the devastating impact on schools due to the recent $17 bil- lion in education budget cuts. At the same time, the briefing pointed to the importance of meeting and exceeding the federal grant require- ments by building on California’s already stringent school account- ability provisions, among the stron- gest in the nation. CTA has also been working to 32 California Educator | DECEMBER 2009 • JANUARY 2010 defeat SBx5 1, which was crafted before the federal government re- leased its final rules for the pro- grammatic funding competition. That competing measure lacks co- herence and fails to provide ade- quate legislative guidance. It would take money from already strug- gling schools and give it to other schools without any accountability for improving student learning, and allow local school districts to be exempt from state collective bargaining laws and all fiscal re- porting requirements. CTA worked to get language into the state Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) — a commitment to participate — that protects collective bargain- ing and statutory rights. The state is working against a Jan. 19 deadline for moving its RTTT application to federal officials. LEN FELDMAN At press time, the Senate approved a compromise bill that was op- posed by CTA as it continued to include a few provisions that were not required by RTTT, would cre- ate chaos in local school districts, and would drain money from Cal- ifornia classrooms. That bill was headed to the Assembly. Visit for more information and links to your lawmakers. Federal RTTT Regulations The U.S. Department of Education’s final regulations spell out what states must do to get in the running for a share of the national total of $4.5 billion in Race to the Top (RTTT) grants. In order to compete for up to $700 million of that amount, California must submit an application by Jan. 19, 2010. States can earn up to 500 points in various categories. Among them, the major areas are: Standards and Assessments (70 points maximum). Data Systems to Support Instruction (47 points maximum). Great Teachers and Leaders (138 points maximum).

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