County Supports Education Law Reforms In ‘Race To The Top’

The Board of Supervisors has unanimously passed a resolution made by Supervisor Don Knabe to state the Board’s strong support of the Governor and California’s Legislature in their efforts to make the necessary changes to state law that would enable California to apply for billions of dollars in new federal education funding.

"Race to the Top" is a $4.35 billion competitive grant program that is a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), designed to support education reform and innovation. A primary focus of this program is to improve education by linking teacher performance to student progress, supporting innovative educational models such as charter schools, and a targeted effort to address the lowest 5% of under-performing schools. Unfortunately, the state laws that govern education in California currently render the state ineligible to apply for this funding. A special legislative session called by the Governor to address this issue began this week.

"There is overwhelming need for reform and change in the approach to education," said Supervisor Knabe, "and no where more so than in the County’s camp schools and community day schools, which serve as the educational home to thousands of young people under jurisdiction of the juvenile court. These are precisely the type of students this federal funding is designed to reach."

Supervisor Knabe’s proposed overhaul of educational opportunities in Los Angeles County’s juvenile camps and halls was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors. The reforms were proposed by Supervisor Knabe after a study revealed students were seriously underserved by the schools designed to teach children incarcerated in the Los Angeles County juvenile justice system. Among the reforms will be the creation of charter schools in the probation system. The reforms will also customize educational opportunities based on the individual needs of the student, including a vocational education path, a college-bound path, and a GED completion path, among others.

"We cannot leave this funding on the table," Knabe continued, "it would be tragic if we let arcane state laws bar us from this significant opportunity to compete for these funds."