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(Sacramento) – The Assembly Committee on Education on Wednesday held its fourth and final informational hearing aimed at ensuring California is competitive in seeking federal “Race to the Top” education grants.

Following the hearing, legislation to strengthen California’s application to win federal funding grants under President Obama’s Race to the Top education initiative was introduced by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education.

“We are approaching the finish line for California’s race to the top application, but our efforts to improve our schools can’t end there,” Brownley said. “AB 8 X5 moves the goal even higher, aiming for a transformation of California’s schools that goes beyond one-time funding and builds a long-lasting environment where students and teachers – working closely with parents – can succeed and thrive.”

Consistent with public testimony from a series of Education Committee hearings, AB 8 X5 follows recently released Race to the Top guidelines and will improve education for all California students by:

  • Identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools, requiring them to implement one of four models for transforming to higher-achieving levels.
  • By August 2, 2010, requiring the State superintendent to develop a set of state content standards in language arts and mathematics that are internationally benchmarked, that build toward college and career readiness, and that reflect the national common core standards being developed by a national consortium of education leaders.
  • Removing the cap on the number of charter schools that can operate in the state, while requiring modest new fiscal and academic accountability standards for charter schools that are consistent with those for traditional public schools.
  • Targeting a portion of the federal RTTT funds to low-achieving schools for high-quality, targeted professional development to leverage a positive environment in schools.
  • Continuing to expand California’s data system and to use that data to improve classroom instruction and to better inform parents and the public about student progress.
  • Maximizing the amount of the new federal funding that is allocated to local education agencies.

“California’s application for Race to the Top must be competitive so we can bring home this crucial funding for our schools,” Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) said. “The Assembly got the facts and got the input from educational stakeholders and the public that will help us have the strongest possible application. This collaborative effort will be reflected in the legislation the Assembly will be taking up next week.”

Assemblywoman Brownley has led four Assembly Education Committee hearings this fall, bringing together representatives of industry, teachers, administrators, parents and school boards to examine each of the reform areas states must address to compete for a portion of $4 billion in Race to the Top grants. Those reform priorities include: developing great teachers and administrators, turning around struggling schools, developing common standards and assessments, and using data to improve instruction.

Pending referral, the bill will be heard and voted on by the Assembly Education Committee for the 5th Extraordinary Session at a hearing December 9 at the State Capitol.

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  • Assemblymember Brownley's opening statement at the Assembly Education Committee’s Race to the Top hearing.

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  • Assemblymember Brownley says states were given the final Race to the Top   application guidelines in mid-November.
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  • Assemblymember Brownley says California could end up receiving millions of Race   to the Top federal funds.
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  • Assemblymember Brownley says the money will be used to help schools improve four   specific areas of education.
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  • Assemblymember Brownley says the Committee has heard from a wide range of people   during its series of public hearings.
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  • [/list]