Not much of a Race To The Top for Orange County schools.

The Orange County Register reports that Most O.C. districts say no to Race To The Top Reforms.

As few as nine Orange County school districts have committed to implement sweeping reforms championed under President Obama’s federal Race to the Top grant program for schools, leaving up to 19 ineligible to receive the potentially millions of federal stimulus dollars that California is seeking.

School districts across the state were required to commit to the president’s education reform agenda by Friday, ahead of a Jan. 19 deadline for California to apply for a federal Race to the Top grant. Twenty-one of O.C.’s 28 school districts initially committed to the plan, but many have since pulled out.

California’s Race To The Top legislation, required for the state to submit a proposal for $700 million in federal grant funding, requires districts to agree to tough achievement standards for lower performing schools. One of the more controversial requirements is the linkage of teacher evaluations to the academic achievements of their students.

The California Teacher’s Association opposed the state legislation because:

1.                  Create chaos in school districts and drain resources from local classrooms.

  • Disguised as parental choice, the bills require open enrollment for all students in schools on the state’s list of the 1,000 lowest performing schools. This list would change annually.  No state resources would be available for busing or transportation. Schools would be required to use Title 1 funds or School Improvement Grant dollars instead.
  • Schools would be forced to take scarce classroom resources and use those funds for transportation costs.
  • The bills would create another unfunded state mandate at a time when the legislature has cut more than $17 billion from public education.

2.                  The bills would punish lower-performing schools without providing needed assistance.

  • Would allow a majority of parents to sign a petition and add their school to the federal sanction list without providing any resources to help the school improve.

The OC Register has a list of who’s in and who’s out in their story.

Who’s on board

Committed: The following O.C. school districts have signed memorandums of understanding with the state, meaning they are committed to implementing President Obama’s reform agenda for schools:

  • Capistrano Unified
  • Centralia (elementary)
  • Fountain Valley (elementary)
  • Fullerton (elementary)
  • Irvine Unified
  • Magnolia (elementary)
  • Ocean View (elementary)
  • Santa Ana Unified
  • Savanna (elementary)
  • The O.C. Department of Education and at least three charter schools – O.C. Educational Arts Academy in Santa Ana, Capistrano Connections Academy Charter in San Clemente, Journey School in Aliso Viejo – also are on board.

The above list reads like a who’s who of cash strapped districts willing to sacrafice just about anything, including local control, for a few quick bucks.

  1 comment for “Not much of a Race To The Top for Orange County schools.

  1. Colony Rabble
    January 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Some of these schools want to apply but simply cannot make the changes to their systems in time for the application. In those cases, look for round two for more schools to be ready for this. In other cases, schools are just plain caving to their union pressure cookers.

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