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Long Beach Pursues Race to Top Funds

With California poised to receive as much as $700 million in federal education funds pending certain actions by the state Legislature, the Long Beach Unified School District is working to secure as much of that funding as possible.

The Board of Education’s recently revised list of legislative priorities specifically references efforts to secure federal Race to the Top funding.  Upon a special request by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the school district recently submitted a letter of support that helped the State Senate to pass key legislation designed to make California more competitive for the much needed federal funding.

“Our schools cannot compete in the race if they never leave the starting line,” LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser stated in his recent letter to State Sen. Gloria Romero, chair of the Senate Education Committee.  “I deeply appreciate your efforts to give our schools and our children a fighting chance.”

The state’s Race to the Top legislation now goes to the State Assembly.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration proposed a series of reforms as part of the  $4.3 billion in competitive grants, known as Race to the Top.

Federal officials released the final guidelines for funding eligibility this month, so states have less than 60 days to apply for funding.  The deadline is mid-January. 

States will be judged on a 500-point scale that will measure their plans to enact a variety of reforms.  Among the highest profile reforms is the effective implementation of student data systems.

President Obama already has recognized exemplary data systems that Long Beach has implemented in collaboration with its teachers to improve student achievement.

“If we’re being recognized on a national stage for our reforms,” Steinhauser said, “then we deserve these funds as much as anyone else does.

“It’s time for the state and federal governments to recognize and reward our innovation.”