By Mike Myslinski
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee listens to students, teachers and school officials at Claremont Middle School in Oakland, a QEIA-assisted school.
The students and staff at a successful Oakland middle school helped by the CTA-sponsored law bringing more resources to our state’s schools of greatest need got a special visitor recently.
Seeing firsthand how reforms like smaller class sizes and better training for educators increase student learning, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) visited Claremont Middle School in early June. It’s one of nearly 500 California public schools receiving extra resources from the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) of 2006.
Lee visited Claremont to see how the landmark intervention law, SB 1133 by Assembly Member Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch), is working. It provides nearly $3 billion over eight years for teacher-supported reforms such as smaller class sizes in all grades, more school counselors, and better teacher and principal training. The law stresses the collaboration of administrators, teachers and parents working together to increase student learning.
The QEIA schools serve nearly 500,000 students who are mostly low-income and minority students and English learners. The law mandates a class size maximum of 20 students in K-3 classrooms; class sizes are reduced to an average of 25 in grades 4-12. A credentialed counselor for every 300 students in high schools is provided, and quality professional development for all staff is established. Teachers get collaboration time to develop lesson plans that work, analyze student data, and mentor new educators. All QEIA schools benefit from having experienced teachers.
“Our young people are our future,” said Lee. “It is imperative that we equip them with the best education possible, providing targeted resources to address their specific needs. I am pleased to have had this opportunity to tour Claremont Middle School. Additionally, I want to thank the California Teachers Association for taking the time to show me the QEIA
Preliminary research data show many QEIA schools are making academic progress. On average, the 499 QEIA schools scored five points higher than similar schools in the state’s Academic Performance Index (API) for the school year 2008-09, the first full year of extra QEIA resources.
In the same period, the
API score at Claremont Middle School rose 90 points to 703.
Speaking with Claremont teachers gathered in the school library, including teacher Lacy Lefkowitz, the CTA site leader for QEIA, Lee praised the school’s progress in these times of widespread cuts. “I love it,” she said. “It’s really amazing to see the kinds of 21st century technology that you have, as well as the garden, and to see how you’re fighting to preserve art and music and the sciences. I am very impressed. I’m glad you’re in my district, and I’m going to spread the word.”
CTA President David A. Sanchez said he hoped that QEIA would get more attention from Congress as a model for reform.
“QEIA is a win-win for all education stakeholders at our schools of greatest need,” said Sanchez. “When you invest in students and schools, good things happen.”
For the hundreds of CTA members who teach at QEIA schools, there is still time to enroll in two summer training events in Monterey County and Los Angeles offering big dividends.
Complete QEIA background is available at "
Two CTA QEIA summer events
- CTA chapter presidents with QEIA school sites are invited to a special update at the annual Presidents Conference on the grounds of the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, Monterey County. Presented by the QEIA workgroup, the breakfast event will be held 7:30-8:45 a.m., July 21, in the Seascape Room in the Crocker Dining Hall.
- A week of intensive QEIA training, featuring education experts on school collaboration and leadership techniques, is part of the Aug. 1-6 annual CTA Summer Institute held at UCLA. The training stresses shared leadership skills for improving student learning at QEIA schools. For program information, contact Martha Buenrostro at (650) 577-5181, or go to www.cta.org.