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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 11, 2010

LOCAL HEROES: SCHOOL DISTRICT REJECTS 'RACE TO THE TOP'

Stephanie Dumm, Lincoln News Messenger, CA - After a lively discussion, the Western Placer Unified School District board of trustees voted unanimously against signing a memo of understanding for California's Race to the Top.

"This is an attack on public education and I don't support it," said board member Paul Long, adding the district is already "going in some wonderful directions in getting kids turned onto reading books and newspapers, and critical thinking."

Race to the Top would provide $4.35 billion nationwide to local educational agencies around the country "to strengthen schools and close the achievement gap" . . .

According to Western Placer Unified School District Superintendent Scott Leaman, the three agencies are writing a grant to receive money from Race to the Top for California's schools. . .

Each state "will be judged by the federal government" on which states will use the money best based on the federal government's criteria, and will be awarded the money accordingly.

"This is seen as a unique opportunity and the state needs to receive a grant for us to use the money," Leaman said.

Leaman said each participating district would have to develop a work plan to implement Race to the Top. . . Before the board made a decision, Shirley Russell, a former Lincoln teacher and Friends of the Library member, and Mike Agrippino, Western Placer Teacher's Association president, addressed the board.

Agrippino said the teacher's association would not sign the memo of understanding "because we consider our signature an endorsement."

He listed the short time frame given to look over Race to the Top, the "overdependence on one number to evaluate a district, school, class or educator" and the current budget crisis as reasons not to sign.

Russell said she "takes issue" with Reach to the Top because "we're not building readers, we're building kids that hate books because of teach, test, teach, test."

"We need to take education back into the hands of the local board and not hire corporations to teach us how to teach," Russell said. "If we put our money into libraries and books, and not into tests and we did that throughout the U.S., we would have kids who enjoyed reading and (are) successful."

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