Policy Brief

Brown Veto Puts Calif. in Jeopardy

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When California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed earlier this summer the spending of $2.1 million in federal money to help build a longitudinal-data system for teacher information, he might have done more than just jeopardize that particular grant.

Indeed, the state has to return the entire $6 million State Longitudinal Data Systems grant to the U.S. Department of Education. But California may have bigger problems.

When the state took nearly $6 billion in State Fiscal Stabilization Fund aid, provided through the 2009 federal economic-stimulus package, it agreed, as did all states, to do certain things by Sept. 30. One was to have a data system that allows individual teacher information to be linked to individual students.

By giving up federal funding to implement that data system, nicknamed CALTIDES, California may be running afoul of the rules governing the stabilization fund.

Federal Education Department officials say they are in “conversations” with state officials about whether the state is in compliance. The federal officials say they’ve heard competing responses from the state about whether California will be able to satisfy the requirements and will be monitoring the state closely.

If California doesn’t find a way to show it is making progress on its data system, federal officials say, the department could take action. That could mean anything from stepped-up monitoring to a demand that the state return any or all of its $6 billion in SFSF aid. California has reported spending all but $8 million of its SFSF money.

Gov. Brown’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. But state education department officials say they are confident their existing student-data system meets federal requirements, said Keric Ashley, who directs the department’s data-management division.

The veto by Gov. Brown, a Democrat, was not a veto of the teacher-evaluation system, Mr. Ashley said, but of a second system meant to link data from different state agencies. The state still maintains its student- and teacher-data system, which already makes the student-teacher link so that evaluations based at least in part on student test scores are possible, he said.

Before returning the $6 million federal data grant, the state urged federal officials to let it use the money for parts of its existing data system. That request was denied.

Vol. 31, Issue 01, Page 20

Published in Print: August 24, 2011, as Brown Veto Puts Calif. in Jeopardy
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