Secretary Arne Duncan has released the final guidelines for the Race to the Top (RTTT) federal education grants and states now have only 60 days to pass necessary legislation and craft applications to qualify for the funding.
Earlier this month the California Senate passed SB 1-5X, authored by Senator Bob Huff and other members of the Senate Education Committee. The ball is now in the Assembly’s court to approve this legislation.
“As the Senate has shown with the passage of SB 1-5X, having areas of disagreement
does not preclude us from having areas of agreement,” stated Huff.
So far the Assembly has dragged its feet and has signaled it would not address the legislation until as late as January. But if the lower house does not act, they are going to preclude California from $700 million dollars in education funding and future on-going funds, not to mention much needed reforms for struggling schools.
It is up to Assembly Speaker Bass to bring in the members for a vote as soon as possible under the 5th extraordinary session. Under the 60 day timeline outlined by Secretary Duncan, January would be too late as the final application is incredibly involved, which entails consulting with various school districts as well as with the Attorney General’s Office.
“There is no excuse to wait until the legislature normally convenes in January,” said Huff.
“Republicans and Democrats must work together to improve our schools and end the failed status-quo which has been protected by powerful special interests for too long,” said Senator Huff. “Parents, local teachers, and students want change and action.”
California will only be competitive for Race to the Top federal grants if SB 1-5X is passed and signed by the Governor. Without these changes in law, it is highly unlikely California will receive any RTTT funding.
To be absolutely eligible the state must lift any barriers permitting the use of student data to evaluate teachers. California has recently passed legislation to meet these criteria – SB 19. Beyond that and in order for California to be competitive, California must have a comprehensive plan to address the following areas:
High-quality standards and assessments.
Data systems that support instruction.
Effective teachers and principals.
Turning around low performing schools.
Finally, states will need to demonstrate buy-in from local school districts and will therefore partner with these districts who wish to take part in the RTTT reform process.
For more detailed information see the Department of Education’s RTTT website at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html.
Senator Bob Huff is the Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee and serves as the Senate Republican Caucus Chair. He represents portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties. You can follow Senator Huff on Twitter @bobhuff99.