For the small California school district, this is like winning the lottery, nearly $30 million in revenue. However, the money can only be used on certain things and the teachers union there had to sign off on certain requirements, something their counterparts in other districts refused to do.
The third and fourth-graders at Kitayama Elementary School in New Haven will soon have electronic tablets in their hands as another tool in the classroom. That's after the New Haven School District was awarded a $29 million grant from the federal government. "We were just thrilled. It's a complete validation of the work that we've been doing over the last many years," Superintendent Kari McVeigh said.
The New Haven School District was one of just three in California and 16 nationwide to win Race to the Top funding. It will help restore library and computer services throughout the district and the money will go toward a number of programs designed to deepen student learning, improve achievement, and prepare students for success in college and beyond.
"Every student 6 through 12 will get a mini-tablet. Teachers will get tablets and laptops. Classrooms will get document cameras and our grades K through 5 will get one mini-tablet for every two students," McVeigh explained.
In order to win the grant though, the New Haven Teachers Association had to agree to federal requirements that link test scores to teacher improvement. Confirming that the union has not agreed to use test scores as a hiring and firing tool Charmaine Banther with the teachers association said, "Absolutely. And, we've not agreed to use test scores to evaluate teacher performance. What we've done is we've decided to use test scores to help evaluate what's going on in the classroom and help teachers gauge what they need to improve on for their practice."
San Francisco and Oakland filed a joint application for the same Race to the Top money but they couldn't get their teacher unions to sign off on the requirements as they relate to test scores and teachers.