Ca. Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Race to the Top Legislative Package Passes State Senate

SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the statement below after the California State Senate voted to pass SBX5 1, the bi-partisan measure proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger to ensure California meets the Obama Administration’s competitiveness requirements in the $4.35 billion national Race to the Top funding competition – which has been federally designed to support education reform and innovation across the nation. The legislative measure will not only help ensure California is highly competitive for hundreds of millions of education dollars for California’s schools, but implement important bi-partisan education reform measures proposed by President Obama and long-supported by Governor Schwarzenegger to help better our education system.

“The Senate’s action takes us one step closer toward an historic victory for California’s schools,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I called this special legislative session and proposed this package because as elected leaders, we must do everything in our power improve our schools and secure additional funding from President Obama’s multi-billion dollar national education funding competition. I urge the state Assembly to immediately pass this historic education reform package to unlock hundreds of millions of federal education dollars for our children.”

On July 24, President Obama and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced federal eligibility and competitiveness requirements for states to compete for $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funding, the single largest pool of discretionary funding for education reform in U.S. history. Building on his commitment to ensure California gets every possible dollar from the federal economic stimulus package during this national economic downturn, the Governor called a special session of the legislature and announced a legislative package to ensure California is eligible and highly competitive for this funding. The proposed reforms, outlined to match Obama Administration eligibility and competitiveness requirements, were introduced as SBX5 1 by Senator Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), Senator Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) and Senator Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad).

Since calling the special legislative session, three reform measures were passed by the California legislature and signed by the Governor on October 11, 2009. Outstanding federal competitiveness requirements that require state legislative action in SBX5 1 include: implementing bold turnaround strategies in the bottom five percent of persistently low-performing schools, allowing parents more freedom to choose the school that best serves their children by authorizing open enrollment for students in the lowest-performing schools, reinforcing a school district’s authority and ability to reward teachers who consistently do a great job improving student achievement and repeal California’s charter school cap.

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