Federal

California ‘Fire Wall’ Becomes Hot Issue

By Lesli A. Maxwell — August 11, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

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 Admin. Says New K-12 Agenda Tackles Absenteeism, Tutoring, Extended Learning
The White House unveiled a set of K-12 priorities at the start of an election year.
4 min read
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
Steven Senne/AP
Federal Lawmakers Want to Reauthorize a Major Education Research Law. What Stands in the Way?
Lawmakers have tried and failed to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act over the past nearly two decades.
7 min read
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, as Starbucks founder Howard Schultz answers questions about the company's actions during an ongoing employee unionizing campaign, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023. The two lawmakers sponsored a bill to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Federal Will the Government Actually Shut Down This Time? What Educators Should Know
The federal government is once again on the verge of shutting down. Here's why educators should care, but shouldn't necessarily worry.
1 min read
Photo illustration of Capitol building and closed sign.
iStock
Federal Biden Admin. Warns Schools to Protect Students From Antisemitism, Islamophobia
The U.S. Department of Education released a "Dear Colleague" letter reminding schools of their obligation to address discrimination.
3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview in his office at the U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Mark Schiefelbein/AP