Governor Calls Special Session on Federal Race to the Top Grant Program

August 27, 2009

Governor Schwarzenegger has called for a special session of the legislature to address California’s ability to complete for funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – Race to the Top (RTTT) Grant program.

Under current law, California would be ineligible to participate in the grant program because of the lack of certain data and it’s availability at the state level, but the Governor hopes to pass legislation in the special session to ensure that California will be eligible under the program. The official rules for the RTTT have not yet been approved or released by the U.S. Department of Education so CSEA and the Education Coalition have concerns about the Governor’s rush to implement legislation that will ultimately affect all of California schools.

The ARRA provides $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward States that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; achieving significant improvement in student outcomes, including making substantial gains in student achievement, closing achievement gaps, improving high school graduation rates, and ensuring student preparation for success in college and careers, and implementing ambitious plans in four core education reform areas:
* Adopting internationally-benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace;
* Recruiting, developing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers and principals;
* Building data systems that measure student success and inform teachers and principals how they can improve their practices; and
* Turning around our lowest-performing schools.
The Race to the Top grants will be allocated in two phases. States that are ready to apply may do so in Phase 1, which will open in late calendar year 2009. States that need more time – for example, to engage in planning with and secure commitments from superintendents, school boards, principals, teachers, union leaders, and community supporters, or others – may apply in Phase 2, which will open in late Spring of calendar year 2010.
What’s Next?
We expect that the RTTT proposal will change as it is scrutinized during the public comment period. CSEA is currently gathering information on the RTTT and reviewing the impact, if any, that the RTTT and Governor’s proposal will have on classified staff. We will provide you with additional reports on any new and significant findings as they become available.