Gov. pushes for ‘Race to the Top’ reforms

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be in Los Angeles today to push for speedy changes to state education laws that would help California earn eligibility for the $4.3-billion Race to the Top federal funding competition by a mid-January deadline.

Legislation to make those fixes is being pushed, in part, by state Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) who serves as vice chairman of the Senate’s Sub-Committee on Education.

Teachers’ unions have opposed the plan, which would, among other things, allow the state to evaluate teacher and administrator performance based on student test scores.

The groups have argued that lawmakers should not be in a rush to make changes for a one-time funding grant, but Huff and other lawmakers have disagreed with that assertion.

“It’s not one-time money,” Huff said. “This $4.3-billion that we are competing for is certainly the opening amount of money, but we’re being told by [Secretary of Education Arne Duncan] that there’s going to be more of this. So to the degree that we’re competitive now, we’re going to be more competitive.”

The Senate has already approved an education reform bill aimed at earning Race to the Top eligibility and the Assembly has yet to pass a similar plan, but lawmakers said this week they hoped to pick up the pace on their consideration of the legislation.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) on Thursday defended her chamber’s slower approach to developing a plan, but announced Wednesday that it would move up a public hearing on the legislation from Dec. 16 to Dec. 2 and would plan to bring it to a vote in the body’s Education Committee by Dec. 6.

“Make no mistake, this is a race that will not simply go to the swift – it will go to the sure,” Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), who is chairwoman of the education committee, said in a statement. “We wanted to be sure and include education stakeholders and the public in an open process, believing that full participation builds the strongest Race to the Top application, believing that reaching out our hand in collaboration strengthens our state’s hand in the competition.”

Written by Zain Shauk

November 19, 2009 at 10:01 am

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