Not all agree with new "Race To the Top" plans

(ABC7)

December 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
California is moving closer to adopting a school reform policy. It will be sent to Washington as part of President Obama's "Race To the Top" competition. However, some educators are not on board with the plan.

Educators want the stimulus money, but they argue this is being put together too quickly and the state will have to live with whatever new policies are adopted, for a long time. Still, on Wednesday, an Assembly committee will hear Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal.

California has its share of underperforming schools. As part of the governor's reform plan for education, parents would have the right to take their child out of a failing school and move to a better one.

The governor made his pitch again on Tuesday by saying, "If you have a child in a school that is failing and is failing, and is failing, this child you can take out of that school and not only move them to another school but to another district."

That's the kind of reform President Obama and his education secretary are looking for, but is one the California Teachers Association says has not really been carefully thought out.

"The question becomes 'Who is going to transport the child?' Oh wait, let's even get before that, 'Is there even space in the school you want to go to?' No one is addressing that issue," says Dean Vogel with the California Teachers Association.

Regardless, California legislators are being asked to move quickly to adopt a plan. The state Senate already has. The Assembly is now taking it under consideration with $4 billion in stimulus money at stake nationwide. California could get between $500 and $700 million.

"We will never again have a president with this level of commitment. We will never again have a bipartisan congress that is so committed to education. We will never again have these kinds of resources," says U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

In the governor's plan, teachers would be evaluated based on student test scores. That evaluation would be done by the school districts. Teachers aren't against that, but want other measuring tools.

"Student portfolio, let's look at work product, let's see what students are able to do," says Vogel.

Some education advocacy groups like Education Trust-West say any type of teacher evaluation should be a state mandate.

"Based on that information, you can calibrate and change your teaching practice, you can think about the different tools and instrument that a school is using, the interventions to see what is effective and what is not effective," says Arun Ramanathan from Ed Trust-West.

So the idea is to have the Assembly Education Committee study the governor's bill and then pass it on to the full Assembly for a vote. The application must be ready and sent to Washington D.C. by January 19, 2010.


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