What are “Race To The Top” and “SB 5x 1”?

“Race To The Top” is the Obama Administration’s education reform program created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. SB 5x 1 is a bill authored by Senator Gloria Romero, a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, that will amend California’s laws to meet the Obama’s Administration education requirements to make the state eligible for funding from “the largest pool of discretionary funding for education reform in U.S. history - $4.35 billion...”

Senate Bill 5x 1 is scheduled to be voted on by the legislature this week and the California Teachers Association is asking its members to call their “State Senators and ask them to reject Senate Bill 5x 1”. In summary they believe the legislature is moving too fast and the bill has “numerous problems”.

The Official California Legislative Information Site http://www.leginfo.ca.gov
Provides the latest Amended version of the bill here:
http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sbx5_1_bill_20091029_amended_sen_v98.html

A quick read of the amended bill suggests to me that school districts will have to re-evaluate how they approach failing schools and consider new and somewhat controversial solutions. It would authorize test results data to be used for purposes of making employment decisions relating to teachers and require this data to be used to provide a means to evaluate teacher performance. These uses of the test data are currently prohibited by law and are, in my opinion, what worries the CTA the most.

I don’t feel our state legislature or Governor has a recent track record of doing much good for our kids and the fact that they are in a hurry to pass this bill concerns me. I also don’t feel the CTA always acts on what is best for our kids and too often are more concerned about their own self interest. I don’t fault the CTA for this since this is the reason most unions exist.

I’ve provided a link below to a presentation of the CTA’s position as well as several other links I found helpful in my research. I don’t know enough to make a fully informed decision on the bill yet. It seems there are some good things about the legislation and if its passage is required for our schools to benefit, something needs to be done, but I think it would make sense to slow down a little and have more discussion.

Our State Senator is Denise Moreno Ducheny and her phone number is (916) 651-4040

Links:
In Favor:
Governor Schwarzenegger’s Press release – http://gov.ca.gov/press-release/13028/
Sacramento Bee’s Editorial - http://www.sacbee.com/325/story/2259591.html

Opposed:
From the CTA – (California Teachers Assoiciation) http://www.cta.org/action/alert/Alert20091030.htm
From The National School Boards Association’s Web Site (Reproduced with permission from School Board News) - http://www.nsba.org/HPC/Features/AboutSBN/SBNToday/Race-to-the-Top-funds.aspx