Contact: Mike Myslinski at 650-552-5324
SACRAMENTO – A San Jose teacher and a California Teachers Association legislative expert testified at a Capitol hearing today that making quick and sweeping education law changes just so the state can apply for one-time “Race to the Top” academic funding could hurt students, teachers and schools.
“The proposed eligibility requirements for these federal funds are more of the same one-size-fits-all policies of the failed No Child Left Behind Act, and the final requirements have not yet been adopted,” said CTA President David A. Sanchez. “Teachers want lawmakers to understand that students and educators are more than just a test score. Teachers and parents understand that paying and evaluating teachers on a single test score is shortsighted and detrimental. Lawmakers should not make getting Race to the Top money an excuse for racing to reckless reforms in this state—especially when those reforms strip away local control and replace it with federal mandates.”
KC Walsh, a teacher in San Jose’s Oak Grove Elementary School District, testified that many districts already use current law to make test scores one part of measuring both student and teacher progress. “In my district, we have implemented a plan that works effectively,” she said today at the joint hearing of the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance. “After all, few people are more interested in improving student learning and effective teaching than teachers.”
Walsh warned that Race to the Top guidelines spell out a “very narrow definition of teacher effectiveness [that] actually imposes a far lower standard of accountability than our current law. It also fails to support the real conversations that lead to improvement. In fact, the limited definition will force schools to narrow their curricula, neglect already-proficient students, dumb down their standards, and focus solely on test results. And that’s not what we want for our students. Our proven success with locally developed strategies is a good reason for rejecting more top-down federal regulations and mandates.”
Patricia Rucker, a CTA legislative advocate and expert on Race to the Top, cautioned lawmakers that hasty changes made to California’s education laws could undermine programs that have been helping students and schools achieve for 10 years. She called the federal program “inadequate, piecemeal, and unrelated to the instructional work teachers do in their classrooms.” CTA’s concerns and research about Race to the Top are posted at www.cta.org.