Gov. Schwarzenegger Submits California’s Race to the Top Phase Two Application for $700 million in Recovery Act Funds

6.1.10 – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed California’s Race to the Top Phase Two application which could provide up to $700 million in much-needed funding to our schools through the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). California’s application was developed by a working group of seven school districts superintendents who are committed to the reforms outlined as part of the Race to the Top goals.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Submits California’s Race to the Top Phase Two Application for $700 million in Recovery Act Funds

 

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed California’s Race to the Top Phase Two application which could provide up to $700 million in much-needed funding to our schools through the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). California’s application was developed by a working group of seven school districts superintendents who are committed to the reforms outlined as part of the Race to the Top goals.

 

“I support President Obama’s bold vision to reform public education and focus on improving student achievement in every school,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “That is why I am here today, signing California’s application for Race to the Top Phase Two funding, which has the strong commitment of our leading school district superintendents and education stakeholders. This application lays out a roadmap for the future of public education in California.”

 

In a state as large as California, the working group of superintendents developed the Race to the Top Phase Two application with the knowledge that most education policy is implemented and delivered at the local level. The state’s detailed plan in the application addresses the stated federal goals of Race to the Top applications, including requiring both teacher and principal evaluations to be based in part on student performance, ensuring effective teachers and principals are placed in low-performing and high-poverty schools and using robust data to improve student achievement to turn around low-performing schools.

 

In addition to the working group of superintendents (San Francisco, Sacramento, Clovis, Fresno, Sanger, Long Beach and Los Angeles unified school districts), California’s application was joined by more than 100 school districts and more than 200 charter schools – representing a total of more than 1.7 million California students.

 

Joining the Governor in signing the Race to the Top Phase Two application today are State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and State Board President Ted Mitchell. Letters of support for California’s application were submitted by key leaders including, Governor Pete Wilson, Governor Gray Davis, Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, Congressman Miller and members of the California Congressional delegation. Dozens of community groups such as the California State NAACP and Families in Schools also pledged their support for the application.

 

“As Superintendent of the largest school district in California, Race to the Top represents an opportunity for California to demonstrate true leadership and a commitment to working collaboratively in the interest of our students,” said superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District and working group member Ramon C. Cortines.

 

On July 24, 2009, President Obama and Secretary Duncan announced federal eligibility and competitiveness requirements for states to compete for $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funding. At the time, California was ineligible to apply. Governor Schwarzenegger took immediate action, calling a special session of the legislature and introducing a bi-partisan legislative package to ensure California could become eligible and highly competitive for this education funding. Since then, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the legislation necessary to make California eligible to apply and then signed historic education reform legislation to ensure California would be highly competitive for up to $700 million in education dollars for California’s schools.

 

For more information and to view California’s Race to the Top application, please visit: www.caracetothetop.org.

 

Governor Schwarzenegger created the California Recovery Task Force to track the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding coming into the state; work with President Barack Obama’s administration; help cities, counties, non-profits, and others access the available funding; ensure that the funding funneled through the state is spent efficiently and effectively; and maintain a Web site (www.recovery.ca.gov) that is frequently and thoroughly updated for Californians to be able to track the stimulus dollars.

PRINCIPAL MYERS-MILLER:

 

Well, good morning, and welcome to Long Beach Unified School District and Lafayette Elementary School. It brings me sincere honor this morning to welcome you here today on this significant occasion for California as public education stakeholders apply for the second phase of federal Race to the Top funds. This is an unprecedented opportunity for the state of California to be innovative and build upon the expertise of many district leaders and educational stakeholders through the process of applying for Race to the Top funds.

 

Today many of those leaders are here with us in the room, and as we begin today’s ceremony, please let me welcome some of those dignitaries who are here to celebrate this momentous occasion:  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; State Superintendent Jack O’Connell; Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss; President, State Board of Education, Ted Mitchell; Long Beach Unified School District Board Superintendent Steinhauser; Superintendent Mark Johnson; Superintendent David Cash; Superintendent Michael Hanson; “Sweet Alice” Harris; (Laughter) Long Beach Assistant Superintendent Dr. Baker; Mayor Bob Foster; LBUSD Board President Mary Stanton; LBUSD Board Vice President Felton Williams; Board Member Jon Meyer; Board Member John McGinnis; CSULB President Alexander; LVCC President Eloy Ortiz Oakley; Gregory McGinnis, Board of Education.

 

I am truly delighted that Lafayette was selected to host this event today. Much of what we have achieved over these last several years mirrors the efforts that are written in the California’s Race to the Top application. If you would just oblige me for just a couple of minutes, I would like to tell you a little bit about Lafayette Elementary School and the dynamic team of educators, support staff and parents that have transformed the vision and mission of this school into fruition for the students whom we serve or, as I endearingly call them, “My little lions.” (Laughter)

 

As I briefly share, I expect that you will hear elements of the four areas of reform that are part of Race to the Top. The vision at Lafayette is quite simple — all students to meet and exceed grade level standards and all students to become responsible citizens through daily interaction in our society at large. However, with Lafayette’s demographic stat sheet of 100 percent Title 1, 88 percent low SES, 70 percent Hispanic, 56 percent EL learners and 22 percent African-American, the above vision might cause many to ponder or question the reality of attainment for this school.

 

However, Lafayette’s team of educators set out to put this ideology of student achievement limitations typically representing these demographics by taking on a new mindset. The mindset for Lafayette was simply putting the vision of the school into reality by taking on a new mantra. Our mantra was now, we are responsible for what happens to these students, we determine how successful they will be in meeting the standards of proficiency.

 

This mantra really changed the way we did business. We, Team Lafayette, began to look at all aspects of the school system and what role each and every one of us played in the outcomes we wanted to achieve. It was no longer “Escuela de la Victoria Miller,” it was now Team Lafayette.

 

There is no magic bullet here at Lafayette. It’s just a team effort, just putting solid research, best practices, into action by simply doing the following; looking at our end result, setting the goal of what we wanted and being specific about the focused professional development that built, over several years, for the teachers and administrators. There is consistent analysis of data that is schoolwide, grade-level department intervention in each individual classroom. We truly embraced the California standards and skillfully built scaffolds for our diverse population of learners to meet the rigors of the standards. Above all, there is just truly ongoing collaboration and dialogue around results and everybody for our students to learn.

 

This cannot all happen without the systematic approach of LBUSD. LBUSD is a system that has been at the forefront of the standards and assessment reform movement since the mid 1990s. Our schools have had the opportunity to build upon a system of district development in completely aligned curriculum and professional development. We are able to use a common set of district assessments to really know our students and make regular decisions about our practice. LBUSD is a system that has been nationally recognized for the use of data in the instructional process. This recognition has not just simply led us to sit on our laurels, however; it has allowed us to dig deeper into the practice of supporting students.

 

California’s Race to the Top application will support continued growth for our school system in the area of data analysis and we look forward to the opportunities that await us. As I mentioned before, Lafayette is only a part of LBUSD, and it’s important that having great teachers is critical to the success of a school and to that of a school system. This vision follows a district vision that has seen a systemic approach to teacher development over the past 15 years. Tremendous attention has been paid to each phase of teachers’ careers in LBUSD. It is with that kind of work that we are supported by our colleges of Long Beach City and CSUOB in supporting our district and it’s with that that we take this opportunity, with other districts, to partake in the Race to the Top opportunity.

 

Though Lafayette is being highlighted today as an example of what happens when you put these key ingredients together — teacher and administrator effectiveness, standards and using data systems — please note that Lafayette is not done with this transformation. We still have a long way to go for each and every one of these students whom we serve.

 

So with that said, I would like to welcome our state governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to LBUSD and Lafayette Elementary School. Thank you. (Applause)

 

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

 

Well, thank you very much for the wonderful speech and for the great comments. And we want to say congratulations also to Principal Myers-Miller for the great job that she has done. I mean, really extraordinary work. And I’m so glad that you pointed out the various different stages you went through and the kind of things that you are doing here in this school and why. We are all here at Lafayette because this is a great example of what schools ought to be all over the state of California. So let’s give her again a big, big hand, and to all of the students here. (Applause)

 

I also — even though you pointed out all the people that are here, I just want to mention a few of them again. Superintendent O’Connell, thank you very much for being here. Senator Gloria Romero, thank you also. And Mayor Foster, thank you, even though you didn’t want to shake hands because you have a cold.

 

MAYOR FOSTER:

 

I still love you.

 

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

 

Thank you. (Laughter)

 

MAYOR FOSTER:

 

You’re welcome. (Inaudible)

 

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

 

Then Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss is back there and then we have Ted Mitchell, president of the State Board of Education, also standing back there. And then we have Sweet Alice, of course — we always have to mention her. She’s our big backer. She loves education reform and loves children.

 

MS. HARRIS:

 

Yes!

 

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

 

Yes, exactly. And Assemblywoman Lowenthal, I also want to say thank you to her. And there are so many others here, and I want to say thank you to all of you. And thank you to the kids that are sitting here on this hard floor. (Laughter) Anyway, it’s great to be here at Lafayette school. And today we are here because we want to sign an application.

 

But first, let me just say that what this is all about is about a great partnership between the students — they have to do their share, to be smart. You have to do the studying, you have to do your homework, you have to do your reading, writing, arithmetic and all those kind of things, listen to the teachers carefully and to your school principal and mentors and coaches and the parents and everyone. But we also have our responsibility. That’s the partnership — the adults have their responsibility. We have to provide great teachers for you, great educators, great schools, enough funding, and to get equal education for every child, and on and on and on. So we have to provide that.

 

And this is what this is all about here today, of submitting to the federal government California’s application for Race to the Top. Now, as you know, that we have already filled out one of those applications before. We didn’t do so well. Other states got the money; we didn’t. But we never give up. We always come back. That’s why I say, “I’ll be back.” (Laughter)

 

So here we are back again, filling out the second application. And we have great hopes for that one because this is round two. And we have decided to focus our efforts only on districts firmly committed to reform. This is what makes this different. Our detailed plan was put together by a working group of seven of our state’s finest school superintendents. In fact, Senator Romero calls them, “The Magnificent Seven.” (Laughter) Now, as you know, I come from Hollywood, from show business, and I like titles, movie titles like “The Magnificent Seven.” As a matter of fact, because I like Hollywood, I think each one of them should get an Oscar for their great performance in putting this together.

 

Their names are Ramon Cortines, who couldn’t be with us here today but who was very, very actively involved in the whole thing. He is from the Los Angeles Unified School District. And then Chris Steinhauser from Long Beach (Laughter). I’m the only one that pronounces that name right, may I remind you. (Laughter) Then Mike Hanson from Fresno, then Carlos Garcia from San Francisco, Jonathan Raymond from Sacramento,  David Cash from Clovis, and Marcus Johnson from Sanger.

 

So I’m proud that our application is supported by so many people here. This is what is really unique about this application, it’s supported just about by everybody — 100 school districts, 200 charter schools representing 1.7 million students, 68 percent of our low-income schools. It is supported also by 40 teachers unions, by business leaders, community leaders and so on. It is supported by Democrats and Republicans — which is always a miracle, that both of them support the same thing, may I remind you. This includes California’s two U.S. senators, past governors, like Governor Wilson and Governor Davis, and also all three leading candidates in the current governor’s race. So imagine all of the support this has gotten so far.

 

Our plan meets every goal set forth by President Obama’s Race to the Top. It helps ensure that we have effective teachers in every classroom, it gives us more tools to turn around failing schools and it makes better use of the data system to measure students’ growth. This is no different than what they have here at Lafayette. They have a great, great model right here.

 

And, in addition to these very important reforms, there is $700 million that can be gotten for our school system, which will be very important. It lays out also a roadmap for the future of our public education. Now, my vision is that we again get to have the best education system in the United States and to be the envy of the world. That is what we have to strive towards.

 

Now, let me just also mention a little bit about — as you know, the state was sued about the funding of schools. And I was asked on the way in here, so I thought I’d address that. I think it is extremely important that we as a state — I instructed our lawyers to work with the court and with the plaintiffs to really make sure that we are working and going in the right direction. It’s not as simple when you just say “funding,” because what’s the definition of funding?

 

We are interested in funding and the money that goes into the classroom. That is the important thing. I think that we need funding. We need to go and straighten out our funding mechanism. I think that’s we’ve got to straighten out our budget system, our tax system. There are so many things that we’ve got to do. And also, we have to concentrate on that we have equal education for every child and that we have accountability. There is no such thing as increasing funding and just throwing more money at that broken system. We need to straighten out our system, we have to work on our system, and so this is what we are trying to achieve.

 

I think that Lafayette is a perfect example of that. I mean, you have here — 10 years ago you were in the API scores in the 500s. Today, 10 years later, you are in the 800s. Not any extra money — (Applause) Not any extra money was thrown at this school. No, they have the same funding as every other school gets. But they reformed the system. It has become eminent reform — I mean, a big believer in reforms here.

 

For example, six years ago this school began analyzing student performance data — very, very important. They use the data to help teachers craft lesson plans, which is very important, so that you can see where are the students good and where they’re slipping and then make the adjustments. That has led to an increase in numbers of students proficient in reading and in math and in writing and so on.

 

We want to see results like Lafayette has had in the last 10 years all over the state of California. This is what this is all about. So I want to say congratulations again to Myers-Miller, to the school principal here, for the outstanding job that she has done.

 

And now it is a great pleasure for me to introduce our Superintendent Jack O’Connell who, right along with Ted Mitchell and our State Board of Education, helped develop this application. They all worked together, like I said, and did an extraordinary job, so I want to thank them again for their great work. Let’s give him a big, big hand. (Applause)

 

SUPERINTENDENT O’CONNELL:

 

Thank you, Governor. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. That was so complete, Governor, you left so much for the rest of us to say. (Laughter) That was very, very thorough. But it’s very nice to be here and I appreciate the Governor’s very complete, comprehensive analysis of where we are.

 

And I also want to congratulate this school. Principal Miller, you should know in Sacramento we all take credit for your good work up there as well. And also our host today, Superintendent Chris Steinhauser, a longtime friend — I always mispronounce his name, unlike others — and also his entire leadership team I know is here and school board.

 

And I too want to recognize the work of so many people that worked so hard on this, including the Secretary of Education for the state of California, Bonnie Reiss. She and I stepped out of the meeting of the Regents last week to work on this. So thanks, Bonnie, for that. (Applause) And then another longtime friend that also has the responsibility of signing up here in a few minutes, Ted Mitchell, the president of the State Board.

 

And really all of our key players the Governor very eloquently went through and named, but it’s the entire team for the Los Angeles Unified School District, for Fresno Unified School District, Sac City Unified School District, San Francisco Unified School District, Clovis as well, the school district, and also Sanger, all of whom have been there really taking the leadership role for this.

 

We have seen an unprecedented collaboration in putting this application together. This application came from the school sites, from the classrooms, from the trenches, from the practitioners, by putting together what’s important to them and the types of changes that they really need to help effectuate true reform. Every step of the way they have crafted this application. This application is very thoughtful, a straightforward approach to helping us improve and reform public education. It creates systemic changes in our educational delivery system that will lead to even greater student achievement. This application has the engagement of our practitioners, our teachers, our site administrators and our parents.

 

The goal is really very simple; to have an effective teacher in front of every classroom, to have a true school leader at every school site and to have the necessary infrastructure and that support at the school site to help deliver services to our students. I’m pleased that over 300 local LEAs, local education agencies, have signed up to support this system and are ready for true reform. These educational leaders are ready for long-lasting, real systemic change to help improve academic achievement for our students.

 

There are four key areas of reform:

 

•           Refining California’s rigorous state standards by making sure that we adopt internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that will better prepare our students for success both in school and in the workplace.

 

•           We need to do a better job of recruiting, developing and retaining our teachers, our most effective teachers and principals, and then we need to get these folks to the schools that need the most help.

 

•           We need to expand our educational data system, just like Long Beach Unified has done under Superintendent Steinhauser, to better measure, to have a more accurate and comprehensive accountability system for our students, so that they too enjoy success in school and in their career.

 

•           And finally, we do need to take a dramatic step to improve our most persistently lowest-performing schools. This is an item that’s very important to the president as well as to Secretary Arne Duncan.

 

This application also emphasizes STEM, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It will also launch new partnerships; new partnerships amongst higher education — and so pleases some of the higher education leaders in the state that are here — with the foundation community, with the philanthropic community, with the nonprofit organizations, the other K-12 educators as well.

 

In short, Race to the Top will help us prepare for a highly skilled workforce. It will help us be able to create new innovative solutions to many of our problems that have as yet even been identified, and that will better prepare our students for success in this hyper competitive global economy.

 

Now let me introduce a longtime friend, the person that’s our host here today and who really has been a leader throughout the state, Superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District Chris Steinhauser. (Applause)

 

SUPERINTENDENT STEINHAUSER:

 

Thank you, Superintendent O’Connell. I want to first of all say good morning to everyone. And I’m going to start my comments off to our young people here, our boys and girls who are ready — they’re 5th graders and they’re getting ready to go onto 6th grade at the end of July — it’s because of you that we’re here today.

 

You’ve heard what a great school you have, but I want everyone to hear some of the great things that you’ve done here at Lafayette. As 5th grade students, you scored 70 percent proficiency in mathematics. You beat the state of California by 13 percent. That’s phenomenal, boys and girls. (Applause)

 

What that tells us is that you get to do whatever you want in life. No one is going to stop you from making your dream come true, whether to become a doctor, an engineer, a superintendent, a governor. You can do whatever you choose to do.

 

And that’s what superintendents do. Superintendents want to make sure that your teachers and your principals and that you have all the necessary materials that you need to do well in school.

 

So when this opportunity came a couple of months ago for us to write this new grant — which is an application to the U.S. Department of Ed., we were so fortunate that the Governor, Secretary Reiss, Superintendent O’Connell and the State Board of Education President Ted Mitchell said, “Go for it. We want you to be the best.”

 

And these seven superintendents, and many of them are here — would you raise your hands, please? They and their teams got together and worked endless hours to put together what we believe is an excellent application that will bring $700 million to the state of California and will help other schools become as great as you are and will help you become even better.

 

So keep your eyes and ears ready for September when we find out if we made the final cut, which I believe we will. And I can’t thank enough the leadership of this state, to give us a second opportunity to do what’s best, because we know sometimes we can’t always do what we want the first time, that we have to learn. It’s like writing a paper. When you get your paper back from your teacher and she said, “Did you do your best?” And you have to answer, maybe I did or maybe I didn’t. And you write it the second time and you even get a better grade.

 

This is what we did with this grant application. Boys and girls, I want you to give yourselves a round of applause for showing us what can be done in public education. (Applause)

 

Now it’s with great pleasure that I introduce a great friend of public education, Senator Romero. (Applause)

 

SENATOR ROMERO:

 

Good morning, good morning. And good morning students and parents and community leaders, education leaders. Thank you so much for all that you’ve given to us.

 

Let me just say that today captures, I think, the spirit, the indomitable spirit of California that yes, we can, that we never give up, never surrender. Even when they naysayers say no, you can’t, we say yes, we can. And that’s what this is about.

 

You know, we’re going to put forth a very thick application. And it’s got fabulous stuff in there and the superintendents who worked so hard have spoken about it and they’ll continue to tell us more about what’s in there.

 

But to me, as a senator and the chair of the Senate Education Committee, this began with simply — it began with a vision. It began with the belief that in this nation, in this wonderful country — and we all celebrate it and remembered yesterday another generation that opened doors and sacrificed to provide opportunities for us.

 

Today’s application, I believe, ranks way up there. It’s called “Race to the Top” for a reason. You know, we can stay at the bottom or we can race to the top. And every generation of our parents and grandparents have always believed we can do better, and we must. And so I’m very happy today in thinking about how far we’ve come.

 

And you know, Governor, I know in Sacramento oftentimes there’s a lot of gridlock and it takes a long time to get something done. But Governor, with your leadership and the leadership of so many that are here today, and the imagination of so many in this room and outside of this room, and parents who believed in their children, and children who want their parents to believe in them as well, we came together not just once, but twice. And so today we recognize the race is a marathon. But this is California and we are going to do all that we can with the sense of urgency, as much as we can, because the greatness of the great state of California depends on the quality of our public education system and the opportunities that our children enjoy in that system that we run.

 

So it’s my honor to be here today. We’re going to race to the top, we’re going to move forward and oh, yes, we can. Thank you so much. (Applause)

 

And now it’s my honor to introduce a very strong civic and business leader, a political leader here in the city of Long Beach who understands the deep relationship between having quality schools and a great city, and that is Mayor Bob Foster. (Applause)

 

MAYOR FOSTER:

 

Thank you, Senator Romero. And Governor, welcome back to Long Beach. I think you were here about a week ago. It’s great to see you again, especially on a great occasion.

 

I too want to thank all those involved in this, particularly Superintendent Steinhauser and all the other superintendents that were instrumental in putting this application together.

 

This is about reforming education. I was struck by the principal, Myers-Miller, and her presentation about what changed at Lafayette school. And what this is about is not just about reform. We all know that we need changes in instruction and changes in curricula. We all know we need additional resources. What this is about is tapping into the human spirit. The human spirit responds to care, it responds to high standards and it responds to the expectation of success. That’s what was done here and that’s what we want to do throughout the state of California.

 

This is a start, with this application. We are beginning the process to change how we educate our children in California. It is essential that we do this. You know, the mayors of the 10 largest cities in California all signed on to this, all signed on to the reform and to the application for Race to the Top, because we know personally how important it is and how essential it is to educate our children and what it means to the future of every community that we live in, in this state. This is an important first step.

 

And we have a example here and elsewhere in the state of California on how to do this. These resources will help us. The leadership behind us has been fantastic. You heard — fantastic, you heard that. (Laughter) You’ve heard how everyone has worked together,

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Tuesday

June 1st, 2010

Jimmy Kilpatrick

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