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California schools skip federal grants due to lack of union support

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The Los Angeles Unified School District is going ahead with their application for federal grant money from Race to the Top, without the essential support of the teachers union. Race for the Top grants give up to $40 million to public schools.  But unions who oppose the grants argue that the program’s test score-based teacher evaluations and strict guidelines stifle creativity and are bad for both students and teachers.

Several districts in California and nationwide have not applied for the grants because their teachers’ unions refuse to support the program. Some districts have gone ahead with the application process without the required signatures from union representatives, while others have withdrawn completely.

Supporters of Race to the Top grants argue that the millions of dollars in federal funding is crucial for students and schools in need of a boost, and that the teachers unions are doing their students a disservice to protect their own jobs. Opponents say that the program’s score-based evaluations and the long-lasting effects of implementation make for less creative, less productive classrooms, and the wrong kind of learning.  They also point out that the grants require districts to commit their own funds to the program and to continue to maintain them past the four-year grant period - which could be unsustainable for strapped schools.

Should the unions sign on to support the grant applications? How should grants like Race to the Top measure success? How would your child’s school benefit from Race to the Top money -- would you rather they had  the funds, or do you trust the teachers?



Tami Carlson, president, Glendale Teachers’ Association

Tim Martin, president, Riverside City Teachers’ Association

Peter Cunningham, Assistant Secretary of Education