Last month, President Barack Obama announced a competition among the states for $4.35 billion in "Race to the Top" grants, the largest pot of money for education reform in history. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the effort the "equivalent of education reform's moon shot."
California, of course, should tap this fund to make big improvements in student achievement. Obama has made it clear that states leading the way in four core areas can win hundreds of millions of dollars, if they can show that they are:
Setting and enforcing rigorous standards.
Turning around historically low-performing schools.
Using data to determine student needs and measure teacher effectiveness.
Putting the top teachers in classrooms, especially in poverty schools and in hard-to-staff subjects such as math, science and special education.
On the teacher front, California has one advantage and one major disadvantage in seeking the grants.
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