When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced last week that California was submitting a new bid for hundreds of millions of dollars in financing under President Obama’s education initiative, Race to the Top, he could not resist a Hollywood joke.
The school superintendents who prepared the bid deserved an Oscar “for the great performance in putting this together,” he said, thanking several by name, including Carlos A. Garcia, the San Francisco superintendent.
“It’s supported just about by everybody,” Mr. Schwarzenegger added.
That, too, was meant to be a joke.
Over the past few months, educators, the teachers unions and lawmakers have clashed so bitterly regarding the changes tied to Race to the Top that state officials privately say the weakened bid stands at best a 50-50 chance of gaining approval — and a sorely needed $700 million — from Washington.
The Bay Area has been at the center of this fight. Mr. Garcia had to be prodded into joining the bid by Ramon C. Cortines, the Los Angeles schools superintendent, and even now he continues to openly criticize a federal program that he hopes will send $20 million to the San Francisco Unified School District, which is facing a $113 million deficit.
Mr. Garcia has said he objects to both the stringent standards and to Mr. Obama’s execution of Race to the Top, which aims to overhaul the nation’s public schools by awarding money based on several conditions, including tying teacher salaries to student performance, abolishing teacher tenure and expanding charter schools. Many of the programs’ critics, including Mr. Garcia, say it is a strong-armed approach similar to the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind policy.
“We’re tired of all that stuff,” Mr. Garcia said. “Even if we get the money, I’m not sure if we can implement all of that.”
Mr. Garcia’s dilemma — he disagrees with the policy, but badly needs the money — is shared by many other strapped superintendents. But his perspective is unique to the Bay Area, where growing discontent among progressives over Mr. Obama’s brand of liberalism is reflected in resistance to his administration’s education policy, which has been forcefully articulated by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
NY Times: Educators Are Opposed to Obama’s School Plan
This is a June story from the NY Times: