California Senate clears path for schools to seek stimulus funds

California may be gaining ground in its race to the top.

Senate Bill X5 1, approved by the Senate Tuesday, would make the state more likely to get a piece of the $4.35 billion in Race to the Top federal stimulus funds offered to the nation's schools.

The bill repeals California's charter school cap, calls for a strategy to turn around its lowest performing schools and allows students at these institutions to attend any school in the state. It also encourages school districts to reward teachers who consistently improve student scores.

These measures address the criteria President Barack Obama and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan said would make a state competitive in vying for the funding.

"We believe we will be able to meet every one of these provisions," said Camille Anderson, a spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But the bill isn't a done deal. It still must pass the state Assembly. And teachers unions have been digging in their heels in opposition to it.

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