Win for California doesn’t translate to local budget relief
By Timithie NORMAN
On Dec. 16, it was announced that California was one of nine winners of one of President Obama’s Race to the Top grants awarded by the Department of Education to encourage innovation and reform in K-12 education. Unfortunately, the Glendale Unified School District, like most other school districts, will not receive any of the $52.6 million for local student programs and services.
“The money will be used for one-time investments in state capacity building and infrastructure,” said Dr. Kelly King, GUSD director of Early Education and Extended Learning Programs. “We will see the benefit of the work, but not in dollars.”
California’s grant proposed a voluntary network of local associations that will create a set of standards for child educational assessment as well as uniformity in teacher training for teachers and child care workers, according to the grant application letter from Gov. Jerry Brown.
The California Department of Education applied for federal funds through the special Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge program, an additional grant opportunity outside of the three regular grant “phases.” The Department’s website explains that California’s focus will be in three areas: child readiness for school, teachers and teaching, and program and environment quality.
Specifically, the state’s plan includes the development of uniform standards for early childhood screening and assessment tools, training for mentors in child care program administration, and the creation of additional curricula both online and in the classroom for child development professionals.
“Funds will be used for technical assistance at the state level rather than on direct services to students,” King explained. “There is no indication that there are funds directed to specific programs.”
The Race to the Top program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was announced in 2009. California was not awarded any funds in the three basic grant phases to date. In the program, states competed for shares of $4.35 billion federal dollars with grant applications and scores based on nationwide standardized tests and teacher performance-based standards.