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NCLB Outrages

State must be competitive for 'Race' grants

Joseph Lucido Comment: Monday's editorial pushing the 'Race to the Top' grants was not accurate. The proposal does not contain “multiple measures” for academic performance. First, a key requirement in the program requires that teachers' performances be tied to their students' high stakes test scores. The National Academy of Sciences has recently come out against the use of a single score to determine student achievement in the classroom. No evidence exists that this "data" works.

Secondly, Education Secretary Arne Duncan's idea that we need to close schools down in order to improve them is based off of nothing more than a failed experiment. A recent report on Duncan's Renaissance 2010 school "turn around" program from the Consortium for Chicago School Research said, "There was almost no difference in achievement for students whose elementary schools were closed from 2001 to 2006." So, why the push for Bill 1X5 here in California? Money. Pretending to fix "failing" schools is a big business these days. Private contracts being awarded to charter school companies promising to turn things around is a scam. Their idea of pushing poor students out for being poor test takers and increasing security at sites is not a real answer. Reducing poverty is.

Joseph Lucido is a Fifth Grade Science Lead in Fresno and founder of Educators and Parents Against Test Abuse (EPATA).


This week will be a big test for the California Legislature, which has the lowest approval ratings since the Field Poll started measuring in 1983.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has called the Senate into session today to take up legislation to make the state competitive for up to $500 million in federal "Race To The Top" education grants.

Will California fight President Obama's education agenda for turning around the nation's lowest performing schools? Or will California be a leader?

Gov. Schwarzenegger proposed legislation to ensure California can compete for the federal funds. In the face of opposition from the California Teachers Union, the Senate will hear a watered down bill today. But it still is worth fighting for.

Senate Bill 1 X5 requires that California apply for the grant in Phase I. It requires schools in the bottom 30% of performance to allow students to enroll in other schools, and requires the lowest-achieving schools to do a turnaround -- involving closure or other options.

The bill allows use of data to improve student learning and as one of multiple measures of teacher and principal effectiveness.

But this provision has been watered down, allowing data to be used for evaluating teachers and principals only if it complies with local collective bargaining. That won't fly in Washington.

This bill is doing only the minimum to meet federal eligibility requirements. The bill does very little to maximize the state's chances of receiving the largest grant possible -- by going beyond the minimum to encourage innovation.

One of the things the Department of Education will be looking at is whether key players are on board -- local districts, parents, businesses, teachers and state officials. It is clear the statewide teachers union is not on board.

Legislators need to show they're serious about embracing action, not the usual paralysis. This catering to the teachers union is a key reason California education is in today's mess, yet the Democrats continue to let the CTA call the shots on education legislation.

— Editorial, with comment by Joseph Lucido
Fresno Bee


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