Education Funding

L.A. Schools Fail to Gain Union Backing for Race to Top Grant

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times (MCT) — October 30, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

An effort by the Los Angeles Unified School District to win a high-profile $40-million grant has unraveled after the L.A. teachers union declined to sign the application, a condition for the competition imposed by the federal education department.

The dollars were modest compared to the school system’s multibillion-dollar annual budget, but school district officials said the Race to the Top grant could have provided critical services as well as additional jobs.

“I’m disappointed,” said L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy. “It’s a shame that we won’t be able to provide this support for students and hire the staff.”

Deasy could submit an application anyway, but said federal rules for the money required a written commitment to the terms of the grant by the local teachers union.

Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast resulted in an extension of the Oct. 30 application deadline, but “I’ve been told that we’re done,” said Deasy, recounting his last contact Monday with the union.

In the end the main sticking point was financial, said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. He noted that similar grants to states have committed officials to efforts that cost more than the grants provided.

He said the district’s $43.3-million proposal seemed headed in the same direction.

The end result, he said, could have been future cutbacks in classroom teachers and services to students.

“There was greater risk than likely reward,” he said.

Deasy has countered that, in fact, the money would have supported efforts already underway. He said private donations would have made up for any costs beyond the grant award.

L.A. Unified’s 150-page application focused in the first year on helping 25,000 students in 35 low-performing middle and high schools. Six of 10 ninth-graders fail to earn enough credits to advance to 10th grade, marking a “critical tipping point” for them, the application said.

The district proposed personalized learning plans aided by digital tablets, summer school, learning projects linked to careers, anti-dropout counseling and other services.

The Race to the Top grant program was extended from states to individual school districts for the first time this year. The U.S. Department of Education established a $400-million pool of funding. About 15 to 25 awards, in the range of $5 million to $40 million, will be distributed as four-year grants.

California failed to win earlier state competitions in part because many unions declined to support the effort.

All along, union officials in California have objected to some of the federal conditions, in particular that students’ test scores or other measures of academic achievement be a “significant factor” in teacher evaluations by 2014.

The L.A. union has vociferously asserted that state standardized test scores are an inaccurate measure of teacher performance, but Fletcher said that issue wasn’t the fatal flaw.

He noted that the district and union already are negotiating over terms of a teacher evaluation that, under state law, must incorporate test scores. The negotiations are taking place with a mediator under a court order.

Deasy said he was willing to agree in writing that the grant application would not be used as leverage in these negotiations.

Still, Fletcher said he was concerned that the grant would set in stone potentially problematic practices. It would be better, he said, for officials, principals (through their union) and teachers to reach consensus on how best to move forward.

Events

School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
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
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

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

Education Funding What the Research Says 1 in 5 Homeless Students Left School Since the Pandemic. Can Funding Help Find Them?
Federal aid has expanded district resources for homeless students, but capacity remains a problem.
3 min read
Kimora Gantt, 8, right, does homework while Jason Gantt, 5, gets his head shaved by his father, Bobby Gantt. After struggling with homelessness, the family has found stability in a home they rent through the housing authority in Tacoma, Wash.
Kimora Gantt, 8, right, does homework while Jason Gantt, 5, gets his head shaved by his father, Bobby Gantt, in 2021. After struggling with homelessness, the family found stability in 2021 in a home they rented through the housing authority in Tacoma, Wash.
Ian C. Bates for Education Week
Education Funding The COVID School-Relief Funds You Might Not Know About, Explained
Governors got $7 billion to spend on COVID relief efforts for K-12 and higher education with broad discretion on how to use it.
6 min read
Illustration of a helping hand with dollar bill bridging economy gap during coronavirus pandemic, assisting business people to overcome financial difficulties.
Feodora Chiosea/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding Puerto Rico Schools to Use New Aid for Teacher Raises, Hurricane and COVID Recovery
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announced $215 million in federal funds before the start of the new school year.
3 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the University of Puerto Rico at Carolina during a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 28, 2022.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the University of Puerto Rico at Carolina during a trip to San Juan on July 28.
Carlos Rivera Giusti/GDA via AP Images
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
Education Funding Quiz
Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About ESSER funding for Career and Technical Education Programs?
Answer 7 questions to assess your knowledge on ESSER funding for CTE programs.
Content provided by iCEV