Statement by Ed Trust—West on California’s Losing Bid for Race to the Top


OAKLAND, CA (August 24, 2010)– Today, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the second round Race to the Top winners.  California was not on the list of recipients.  It is estimated that the state lost $700 million for much-needed education reforms.

“We are deeply disappointed by California’s loss,” said Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of The Education Trust—West, a leading statewide education advocacy organization.  “Although our second round showing was much stronger, the early indication is that strong legislative support for teacher effectiveness reforms separated the winners from the losers.”

Put in a larger national context, California has 6.2 million students— roughly half of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch.  There are more students of color in California schools than most other states have students.  If our nation is serious about closing achievement gaps and enhancing our global competitiveness, then California must become a leader in education reform.

“In order to win Race to the Top, our state Legislature should have done more to reform our antiquated and counter-productive teacher evaluation system,” continued Ramanathan.  “I leave it to the opponents of reform in Sacramento to explain why they left a $700 million check for our schools on the table.”

Over the past year, Race to the Top has been a driving force for statewide education reform.  After poor results in the first round, the state’s second application used a collaborative approach—leveraging the best thinking from a group of reform-minded California school districts.

Proposed reforms included a stronger focus on educator evaluations using multiple measures.  It also built on and refined the state’s standards and assessment systems to spur more student achievement and turnaround failing schools that disproportionately serve students of color and students in poverty.  Additionally, the application pledged to enhance local data systems.  Sadly, California’s two statewide teacher unions did not endorse the state’s Race to the Top efforts in spite of their continual calls for more education funding.

“By failing to support our applications, the unions damaged our chances for success,” stated Ramanathan.  “While we recognize that high-impact reform is never easy, there is a difference between good faith criticism and misplaced obstructionism that blocks the reforms our children deserve,” he concluded.

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About The Education Trust—West

The Education Trust—West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, kindergarten through college, and to forever close the achievement gaps separating low-income students and students of color from other youth. Our basic tenet is this— All children will learn at high levels when they are taught to high levels.

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.