Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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California’s Lowest Performing Schools: The 187 Proposition

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Trying to obtain more federal aid for its beleaguered public-ed system, the State of California has come out with its list of the 187 “persistently lowest-achieving schools”.

Translation: the worst of the worst in the Golden State.

This comes a week after President Obama announced a national effort to reduce America’s high-school drop-out rate and better prepare kids for professional careers.

That plan includes “interventions” for 5,000 of the nation’s lowest-performing schools over the next five years. Obama’s 2011 budget includes an extra $900 million to support “School Turnaround Grants.”

Here’s a list of which schools made the cut in California, as well the qualifying criteria.

Caution: the list can still be changed by the State Board of Education, which meets Wednesday to discuss it. 

In case you’re curious, state and federal officials looked at 3,759 schools (out of a pool of roughly 10,000 schools) they deemed to be low-achieving.  Those schools were subdivided into 7 separate groups, with the bottom 5% of each group “winning”, if you will.

The school chosen can apply for federal grants ranging from $50,000 to $2 million per school.

But here’s the catch.

To get the federal aid, the California schools have to carry out one of the following reforms by the start of the next school year:

— Replace the principal, rehire no more than 50% of the staff and change the instructional program.

— Close and reopen as a charter school.

— Close and reassign students to other higher-achieving schools in the district.

— Replace the principal, increase instructional time and make other changes.

So what’s standing in the way?

Try local school officials, who feel rushed. And a powerful public-teachers’ union in Sacramento that’s resistant to reform — even when it’s pushed by a Democratic Administration in Washington.


Written by Bill Whalen

March 8, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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