'A' for education effort
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, January 8, 2010
As far as education reform is concerned, 2010 is off to a good start. The California Legislature approved important reforms for California's application for federal Race to the Top funds on Tuesday, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed them on Thursday.
It's amazing what Sacramento can do with the proper motivation (like up to $700 million in federal grant money).
The Legislature was always going to approve SBX5 1, the basic nuts-and-bolts reforms that were required for the state's application. The bill identifies schools that are performing weakly and requires them to pursue improvements, and allows schools to link student performance data with teacher evaluations. But the powerful California Teachers' Association hated SBX5 4, which empowered parents to bring reforms to troubled schools and allows students in the 1,000 worst-performing schools across the state to transfer out - even across district lines. It's a small, and welcome, miracle that SBX5 4 managed to squeak past.
Now comes the hard part.
California's educational system is still structurally dysfunctional, and neither these new laws nor all the federal money in the world will change that. (Though speaking of money, that's a problem too - education is likely to be back on the chopping block when budget battles commence in Sacramento.) As helpful as the federal money will be, that dysfunction can only be solved by state and local leaders, most of whom are hesitant. We've got a lot of work left to do.