State loses education funding race

In a race to the top, California schools found themselves in the familiar position of being near the bottom Tuesday.

For the second time, the state lost its bid to win a share of the $4.35 billion federal “Race to the Top” school reform program. Districts across the state were hoping to split about $700 million from the program, created as part of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan.

California placed 16th out of 18 finalists in the competition, which rewards states for enacting ambitious reforms to improve struggling schools.

“The loss of the funding may slow, but not defeat, our efforts to improve student achievement in California,” state schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell said.

The competition for federal dollars prompted a wave of education reforms across the country, with states passing new teacher- accountability policies to boost their chances of winning.

In the first round, California placed 27th among 41 states that submitted applications.

The San Francisco Unified School District was part of a working group to help write a more detailed application. On Wednesday district officials said that if the Obama administration secures $1.3 billion for another round of stimulus funding, San Francisco may apply on its own.

School district officials say they have led the way in implementing teacher-accountability methods. SFUSD Superintendent Carlos Garcia said that disunity across the state could have led to the poor result.

“We’re a little disappointed, especially when we see the states that did get it — they’re predominantly on the East Coast,” Garcia told The Examiner. “I think what may have hurt is not all the districts in the state supported it.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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