Schwarzenegger’s plan would reshape education in California

Jason Song & Jason Felch:

The state’s powerful teachers unions criticize the governor’s sweeping proposals, including merit pay for teachers. The plan would help qualify the state for Obama administration funds.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called on legislators Thursday to adopt sweeping education reforms that would dramatically reshape California’s public education system and qualify the state for competitive federal school funding.
The governor’s proposed legislation, to be considered during a special session that ends by Oct. 5, was met almost immediately by criticism from the powerful state teacher unions, which called Schwarzenegger’s plans rushed and unnecessary.
While Schwarzenegger’s goal is to boost California’s chances to qualify for $4.35 billion in federal grants, known as “Race to the Top,” many of his proposals go far beyond those needed for eligibility, and embrace the Obama administration’s key education reform proposals.
Schwarzenegger’s reforms include:

  • Adopting a merit pay system that would reward effective teachers and give them incentives to work at low-performing campuses;

  • Abolishing the current cap on the number of charter schools that can open every year;
  • Forcing school districts to shut down or reconstitute the lowest-performing schools or turn them over to charter schools’ independent management;
  • Allowing students at low-performing campuses to transfer to a school of their choosing;
  • Requiring school districts to consider student test data when evaluating teachers, something the federal government believes is prohibited under state law.