U-S Education Secretary Attends School Summit In Sacramento

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, September 3, 2009
U-S Education Secretary Arne Duncan is encouraging California kids to study hard and think about their future.
Duncan was in Sacramento today (Thursday) to attend a back-to-school rally.
He used the opportunity to outline the Obama Administration’s plan for education and urged the state to apply for new federal school funds.
Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley reports...
The rally was part of an education summit organized by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. He got things started with a speech to a crowd of school kids...
Johnson  “We want to do something really special for you young people to let you know how special you are, how important you are. And, we wanted to kick off the school year the right way...and I brought by the A-team to greet you at your back to school kick off...” (crowd cheers)
The A-Team included Governor Schwarzenegger and U-S Education Secretary Arne Duncan.   Duncan challenged the students to stay in school and follow their dreams...
Duncan:   “This state is losing 70-thousand of you young people every single year. That could fill-up a football stadium.   The vast majority are dropping out. And, when you drop out...and you guys know this...there are no good jobs out there. There’s nothing positive out there for you to do. And, so California has to lead the country in getting that drop-out rate as low as possible...”  
Governor Schwarzenegger says California’s drop-out rate is decreasing. But he says more needs to be done.  

And, he outlined the state’s effort to apply for a portion of more than four-billion dollars in new federal education funding offered by the Obama Administration...
Schwarzenegger:  “The only problem is that we can’t even compete because we don’t have certain laws in place to compete. So think about how crazy that is. That’s why I’ve called the legislature into special session to fix that problem...”
Right now, California can’t apply for the federal funds because the state doesn’t allow student achievement test results to determine how much teachers are paid. 

President Obama is offering the money only to states that tie the two together.  

Democratic State Senator Gloria Romero of Los Angeles has written a bill that would help California meet the President’s guidelines...
Romero:  “What this legislation does is to remove the firewall so that we can have a link between student achievement and teacher performance...”
But, some teachers oppose the measure. K.C. Walsh is a member of the California Teachers Association. She’s been a special ed teacher in San Jose for 30 years...
Walsh:  “I think it will be very difficult to get teachers to go to the schools with the low performing students or English as second language students or the special education students. They’re not going to want to take on that extra challenge because there’s no way they’re going to get the financial reward at the end...”
California schools could get up to 500-million dollars under President Obama’s new “Race to The Top” program. 

If lawmakers want California to be able to compete against other states...they’ll have to hurry to change state policy. 

The deadline to apply for the federal funds is next month.