Federal

California ‘Fire Wall’ Becomes Hot Issue

By Lesli A. Maxwell — August 11, 2009 1 min read

Since U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan singled out California as one of three states most likely to be weak contenders for some of the $4.35 billion in Race to the Top Fund grants under the federal economic-stimulus law, officials there have scrambled to argue otherwise.

The dispute centers around California’s so-called fire wall between its new student-achievement data system and one for teachers that is due to roll out next year.

The 2006 California statute creating a statewide longitudinal-data system for teachers prohibits its use for pay, promotion, or evaluation.

It also clearly prohibits using any information that would personally identify a teacher.

Such provisions, Mr. Duncan has said, are barriers to Race the Top eligibility.

But California’s top three K-12 officials argue that the state law doesn’t prohibit principals and superintendents from using student-achievement data to appraise the effectiveness of their teaching staffs. And they point to two districts that are doing it already: Long Beach Unified and Garden Grove Unified.

“We make all of our employment and evaluative decisions at the local level,” said Jack O’Connell, California’s superintendent of public instruction, who, along with state school board President Ted Mitchell and state Secretary of Education Glen W. Thomas, sent a letter to Mr. Duncan last month to make that case. “I understand how people can read the same language and come to a different conclusion, though.”

Help in settling the dispute could fall to Jerry Brown, California’s attorney general and former two-term Democratic governor who is also likely to run for governor next year.

The 340,000-member California Teachers Association insists there is no need to change the statute’s language because local school districts can do exactly what Mr. Duncan has called for.

“I would hope that the secretary and President Obama would not shortchange the students of California because of some bureaucratic red tape and the intent of a law that they don’t understand,” said CTA spokeswoman Becky Zoglman.

A version of this article appeared in the August 12, 2009 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Meeting the Moment: Accelerating Equitable Recovery and Transformative Change
Educators are deciding how best to re-establish routines such as everyday attendance, rebuild the relationships for resilient school communities, and center teaching and learning to consciously prioritize protecting the health and overall well-being of students
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Biden Team: Schools Can Go Beyond Trump Rules in Response to Alleged Sexual Misconduct
The Education Department's guidance, released July 20, states that Title IX rules from 2020 lay out "minimum steps" for educators.
3 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty
Federal Fact Check: After Furor Over 1619 Project, Feds Adjust History and Civics Grant Plans
A previously obscure history and civics program has weathered a political storm, but what exactly has changed?
4 min read
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination on Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington.
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination on Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington.
Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP
Federal 'Stop CRT' Bill, Votes in Congress Add to Political Drama Over Critical Race Theory
Sen. Tom Cotton's legislation and votes about critical race theory in the House underscore the issue's potency in Washington.
5 min read
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a hearing to examine United States Special Operations Command and United States Cyber Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal year 2022 and the Future Years Defense Program, on Capitol Hill, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Washington.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill March 25 in Washington.
Andrew Harnik/AP
Federal Senators Grill Civil Rights Nominee on Transgender Students, Sexual Assault Investigations
If confirmed as assistant secretary for civil rights, Catherine Lhamon will handle some of the Education Department's most sensitive issues.
6 min read
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the Education Department in Washington on Aug. 9, 2017.
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the education secretary at the U.S. Department of Education.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP