Charter group, but not L.A. Unified, finalist for Race to the Top
A local charter school organization is a finalist for a high-profile federal grant, but the Los Angeles Unifed School District failed to qualify in the same competition.
Green Dot Public Schools, which operates 18 charter schools, remains in the running for a “Race to the Top” grant, the U.S. Department of Education announced Monday. If successful, Green Dot could receive $30 million over a four-year period.
In the application process, districts were supposed to set out a plan to “personalize education for students and provide school leaders and teachers with key tools that support them to meet students’ needs,” according to the Education Department.
But the devil for L.A. Unified was in the details. Participation by the teachers union was required and United Teachers Los Angeles would not sign on, citing concerns that Race to the Top could commit the school system to long-term spending not covered by the grant. Union leaders in L.A. and elsewhere also were concerned such a grant could commit them to the use of student test scores as part of a teacher’s evaluation.
L.A. Unified applied anyway, asserting that it needed the funds and that its application and students were deserving. The nation’s second-largest school system, with more than 1,000 schools, had sought $40 million, the maximum possible.
No union issue arose with Green Dot, whose teachers voted in May, after much debate, to accept student data in teacher evaluations.
The 17 unsuccessful California applicants included the Glendale, Montebello, Riverside and Fresno unified school districts.
Each application was randomly assigned to three evaluators, with ratings averaged to determine a final score. Federal officials said they expected to select 15 to 25 winners.
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-- Howard Blume
Photo: Green Dot founder Steve Barr and supporters are shown outside the Los Angeles Unified School District board's offices in 2007. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times