Statement by The Education Trust—West on Governor Schwarzenegger’s Call For a Special Session on Education and The “Race to the Top” Fund

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OAKLAND, CA (August 20, 2009) “Governor Schwarzenegger’s call for a special session on education today means that California may have a chance to participate in the “Race to the Top” after all.

The Governor is providing clear leadership and keeping his word that California will aggressively compete for every available stimulus dollar. This special session provides an opportunity to change state laws that currently make California ineligible for grants from the $4.35 billion in competitive grant funding.

The Governor should be commended for taking a critical step in processing that California should eliminate the ‘firewall’ in state law that bans the use of student achievement data for purpose of teacher evaluation.

We agree that employment decisions should happen at the local level, but the state must take a direct role in helping local leaders identify and reward the teachers or group of teachers who are most successful at raising student achievement. This is a fundamental reform for improving outcomes for all of our students, especially the low-income students and students of color who have been historically underserved by our public schools.

California’s public schools are back in the “Race to the Top,” but the race is not yet won. State leaders must seize this opportunity to not only ensure that California meets the basic eligibility requirements, but that our state resumes its role as a national pace-setter and leader in education.”

Linda Murray, Acting Executive Director
The Education Trust—West

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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.