Important Victory for Education! – SB 19 Signed into Law

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By Linda Galliher

California’s cash strapped and underperforming schools need help. Yet, without a comprehensive system to track student data and performance, the state was unlikely to qualify to compete for a large pot of money in the federal Race to the Top education funds. In frustration with his home state, Congressman George Miller, who chairs the House Committee on Education and Labor, ended a recent Bay Area Council meeting saying, “We cannot continue to throw education dollars at a broken system.” It was sobering to hear this given the Bay Area Council’s Education Committee’s continuing fight for a comprehensive education data system. Our hard work finally paid off when Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 19 (Simitian), a bill that removes barriers to federal stimulus dollars – and strengthens the State’s ability to accurately track student performance.

State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) thanked our members for their work. “The signing into law of SB 19 is the culmination of several years’ hard work. Not only does the bill make California eligible to compete for $4.5 billion in federal education funding but it will put in place a data system that will benefit our children and their teachers. I thank the Bay Area Council for their support over those years.”

We, in turn, congratulate Senator Simitian. California lags in the tracking of student performance. We are working diligently to change that – and this bill is a huge step.

SB 19 will allow California to do the following:

* Use student data to evaluate teacher performance and to make teacher assignment decisions.
* Link the collection and flow of data, through a longitudinal system, from Pre-K, through K-12 and into higher education.
* Compete for federal Race to the Top stimulus funds that will be awarded to states that are innovative and reform minded.

For more information on California’s quest for federal grant monies, and suggested reform legislation from the Governor click here.

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