SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for the ‘Race to the Top’ Category

I better stop now before I get in trouble*

Stories that developed while on hiatus:

  • Proposed Senate Bill 1317 (Mark Leno, D-San Francisco) will legislate the incarceration of parents of truant California children.
  • The Sacramento Bee reports that SCUSD is eligible for federal funding to help 1,801 refugee children in grades K-12 who have arrived in the county in the last three years.
  • West Campus’s test scores continue to put that local high school in the state spotlight for excellence.
  • Still more education reporting from the Bee (Phillip Reese and Melody Gutierrez) reveals that the number of students who aren’t proficient in English dropped to its lowest level in about a decade.

Also, California lost out on Race To The Top funding, the California legislature passed SB-1381 (Kindergarten Age,) and the Los Angeles Times invented the Teacher’s Box Score.

And as a bizarre side note, Sacramento was deprived of a celebrity wedding this weekend when Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee sent out e-mails to uninvite guests to their Labor Day nuptials, calling the big plans  “a mistake.”

*The Mayor’s words, as quoted by Kitty O’Neal.


Written by scusdobserver

September 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

Closing schools = turnaround?

In September, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Obama administration are set to announce the “winner” states that will receive Race to the Top funding, an ongoing competitive grants program that hands out money to states that can prove they’re sufficiently committed to education reform.

To recap, Race to the Top funding is incumbent on four “turnaround” models — all of which we’re seeing in the political machinations taking place in our own school district. They are:

  • Turnaround model: Replace the principal and rehire no more than 50% of the staff, and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time and budgeting) to fully implement a comprehensive approach to substantially improve student outcomes.
  • Restart model: Convert a school or close and reopen it under a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
  • School closure: Close a school and enroll the students who attended that school in other schools in the district that are higher achieving.
  • Transformation model: Implement each of the following strategies: (1) replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; (2) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (3) increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; and (4) provide operational flexibility and sustained support.

In the Washington Post today, writer Valerie Strauss shares a letter from parent activist, Rita Solnet:

Secretary Duncan, you have an opportunity to be the hero this country needs. You have the ability to stop these initiatives and regroup. Gain input from all levels of ’stakeholders’ in the process, gain endorsement of a new plan–a plan in which all levels of stakeholders take pride in developing and launching. Congresswoman Judy Chu’s plan is a great first start. The DOE’s proposed four (4) turnaround models [for the worst schools in each state] will not work. Scrap them, start over. Closing public schools should not be an option.

Written by scusdobserver

July 19, 2010 at 7:38 am

Corporate restructuring

The news that Superintendent Jonathan Raymond is seeking permission from trustees to hire a chief accountability officer for SCUSD does not allay very real fears that Raymond is accelerating a push to develop a corporate education culture in Sacramento.

Consider these job titles: Chief Talent Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer, Chief Portfolio Officer…all with annual salary ranges between $125,000-175,000. New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, a strong proponent of privatization, devised this idea of “administrative restructuring.”

These executives (most who have never taught in a classroom or been a principal) make the rounds throughout the countries’ school systems while changing job titles and descriptions. It’s a smorgasboard of CEO’s. Raymond was a chief accountability officer before he was hired in Sacramento.

The ultimate goal is to run the school system like a corporation –SCUSD teachers will have continued pressure to “teach the test” and improve API scores — data will be relentlessly tracked and tied to performance by the chief accountability officer.

This reform leads to what education historian Diane Ravitch calls a huge mistake:

Teachers — not just union leaders — are unhappy, frustrated, and demoralized. So are parents, because they don’t like the high-stakes testing regime either. They don’t like that their children are losing time for the arts, science, history, geography, physical education, foreign languages, and everything that is not tested. They may not be well-informed, yet they know that their children are missing out on a good education.

Race to the Top resubmit

SCUSD trustees voted Thursday evening to resubmit the Race to the Top application as the state seeks to be one of 10 selected for $3 billion in second-round funding. Finalists will be announced in the fall.

Written by scusdobserver

May 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

Dream Money

As many school boards in the U.S. hesitate, Race to the Top dollars come under a deadline. Our school board will discuss it tonight.

In Educational Utopia, here is how our board could appropriate this money and how everyone might work together:

  1. E-21 continues as a public program without the majority of its funding coming from corporate philanthropy.
  2. Our teachers and their union work to create a pipeline with state and federal agencies to give their collective ideas more bargaining power.
  3. The poorest-ESLL (neighborhood) schools keep their doors open.
  4. Parents become administrators of district-wide programs that focus on peer-led (grass roots level) involvement.

Written by scusdobserver

January 12, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Leave the money on the table

While politicians and pseudo-educators clamor and compete for the Race to the Top funding currently working its way through the California legislature, it would behoove the SCUSD Board of Education to keep one thing in mind:

Money often doesn’t fill a vacuum, it creates one.

Some California school districts will opt out of the take because the Race to the Top mandates will be difficult to implement and fund with a one-time payout.

The best option for our school district is not to enter in to this financial arrangement with the government — in the long run, Race to the Top is a bad bargain.

‘I believe that this program abandons our neighborhood schools, the children that live there and the people nearby,” said Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch. ”Even worse, it abandons those very schools that are most in need of our help.”

Written by scusdobserver

January 6, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Still $8 million and holding?

The SCUSD Board of Directors will elect officers at tomorrow night’s board meeting. Superintendent Raymond is scheduled to report on his 100 days findings and recommendations. Action items include bond money reallocation with regard to the $8 million set aside for the unresolved issue of the consent decree high school and also presumably for modernization of The Met, financial reports by acting CFO Patricia Hagemeyer, and approval for a memorandum of understanding for Race to the Top funds.

The board meeting will stream live beginning at 6:30 p.m.
For more documentation, visit this link, and scroll down to items under Public Hearing.

Written by scusdobserver

December 16, 2009 at 4:22 pm