Contact: Sandra Jackson at 916-325-1550 or Mike Myslinski at 408-921-5769
BURLINGAME – The governor’s call today to rush the Legislature to change state laws in order to meet federal funding mandates will hurt student achievement and is all too similar to the failed, one-size-fits-all policies of the No Child Left Behind Act, cautions the California Teachers Association.
“California teachers certainly recognize the need for more school funding, but calling lawmakers into a special session to rewrite state education laws so California can apply for federal ‘Race to the Top’ (RTTT) grants before the guidelines have even been established and without public discussion is a knee-jerk reaction that our state can’t afford, and could undermine the achievement and progress our students and schools are making,” said Dean E. Vogel, vice president of the 340,000-member CTA. The federal guidelines for the RTTT grants won’t be finalized until October.
“California voters overwhelmingly rejected the governor's education reform agenda in 2005 and this is just more of the same. The proposed Race to the Top requirements repeat the top-down mandates of the flawed No Child Left Behind Act, with its over-reliance on test scores to measure student achievement,” said Vogel. “Students are more than one test score and so are educators. There must be multiple measures for student achievement and evaluating teachers. Using test scores to pay and evaluate teachers will lead to more teaching to the test and will hurt those students who need the most help.”
Despite U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s claims, and concerns by the governor, student testing data is already linked to teachers at the local level in this state. Right now, this data is available to teachers and school administrators to analyze and evaluate student progress. State law also already requires the use of student assessment results in the evaluation of teachers, including the use of criterion-referenced tests as determined by local teachers and administrators.
“Education reform is important business for the state of California as our children’s future depends on it. Rather than racing to make changes to appease the federal government, any education changes should be done with serious thought, consideration and input from educators and parents,” Vogel said.
CTA supports using student testing data to improve student learning, instructional strategies and professional development. CTA has long supported and advocated for growth models as a better measurement of student achievement as students and schools should be given credit for the progress they make. In California, CTA has also led efforts to improve lower-performing schools. The CTA-sponsored Quality Education Investment Act provides funding for proven education reform efforts such as smaller class sizes and teacher and administrator training, and for hiring much-needed counselors in high schools.
After the governor cut more than $18 billion from public education over the last two years, teachers certainly agree that our schools need and deserve more money, but according to the proposed Race to the Top guidelines the governor could hold onto half of the funds to use as he sees fit. “Any additional money should be focused in our classrooms – not paying for more layers of bureaucracy,” Vogel said.