Contact: Sandra Jackson, CTA, 916-325-1550 or Julie White, ACSA, 916-329-3832
Sacramento—The state Education Coalition today urged lawmakers to involve all stakeholders and wait for final guidelines as they consider potential education reforms related to the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program. Education leaders called on Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg and Senate Education Committee Chair Gloria Romero to slow down efforts to push through Senate Bill 1 5X, a new measure on which Romero held a hearing this morning. Among other things, the proposed law would seek significant changes in how the state addresses its lower-performing schools, the current cap on charter schools, student transfer rules, and how data is used to measure teacher and administrator effectiveness.
“Education reform shouldn’t be a race; it deserves serious attention that will actually help kids and improve student achievement,” said CTA President David A. Sanchez. “Proposed reforms need thoughtful discussion with all stakeholders, including parents, teachers and community members. They should not be sprung on the public just hours before last-minute hearings if any meaningful input is really going to take place.”
“By rushing to enact legislation before the release of final federal regulations,” said CSBA President Paula S. Campbell, “the California State Senate is jumping to conclusions about what is required by the federal government as well as what makes good sense. For example, while districts should have a wide range of options to improve low performing schools, SB1 5X instead limits reform options by forcing districts to choose from options that research has consistently shown to have a limited chance of success. It makes no sense to act quickly if the result is a step backward for school reform.”
“At this time we should be focusing on working together to develop a thoughtful Race to the Top plan, rather than adding new laws that may be unnecessary or that may conflict with the final guidelines,” said ACSA president and Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Charles Weis. “Our analysis shows there is no need for changes to state law to apply for Race to the Top, and premature reforms may have long term and potentially unnecessary consequences for students and schools.”
“We fully support efforts to turn around persistently low performing schools, improve student achievement and close the achievement gap, but such efforts need to be done in a thoughtful manner with input from all stakeholders including parents and community members,” said Debbie Look, director of legislation for the California State PTA. “We acknowledge the sense of urgency created by the short timeline of the application process for Race to the Top funds, but our sense of urgency is based on providing all students, especially the historically underserved, opportunities for a high quality education.”
“In this time of unprecedented budget cuts to schools, we should focus on thoughtful proposals to help our schools, not further hinder them. Students are not best served through premature and rushed decisions made in emergency legislative sessions. None of the proposals in SB 1 5X is of an urgent nature that needs to be passed right now,” said Allan Clark, president of the California School Employees Association.
California Federation of Teachers President Marty Hittelman said, “The Legislature should wait to respond to the published regulations that will come out as a result of formal review at the federal level - there is no reason to rush the process and move in directions that are both educationally disruptive and are not responsive to the final federal regulations.”