Los Angeles Daily News | By Barbara Jones via Huffington Post | http://huff.to/Xzj4Eb
10/25/2012 1:59 pm EDT :: Facing an Oct. 30 deadline to file for a $40 million Race to the Top grant, Los Angeles Unified officials are still waiting for the teachers union to bless their application.
United Teachers Los Angeles reviewed the original application and provided feedback. Los Angeles Unified officials said they sent a revised version to the union just after noon Wednesday, but had not yet received a response.
The union's endorsement is a requirement for the highly competitive grants, which reward innovative efforts to prepare students for college or the workforce.
Among the recommended elements is the creation of data-based teacher evaluations, an issue currently being negotiated by the district and UTLA.
Superintendent John Deasy expressed concern and frustration that the district's application is coming down to the wire.
"We don't have a signature yet," he said. "I don't understand why they can't say yes to free money."
UTLA officials have not commented on the process.
The looming deadline prompted an education reform group to release a statement Wednesday urging the two sides to reach a compromise and sign off on a plan.
Educators 4 Excellence said the timing is even more critical, given the two proposed tax increases on the Nov. 6 ballot that would fund education.
"We hope UTLA and LAUSD can agree and move forward quickly on a meaningful system for teacher evaluation and support," said Ama Nyamekye, executive director of Educators 4 Excellence. "Moving forward is critical to ensuring that we are able to secure up to $40 million in federal Race to the Top dollars that the district aims to invest in better supports for teachers, smarter use of technology and individualized support and enrichment programs for students.
The U.S. Department of Education reported in August that nearly 900 school districts had applied for grants. The agency expects to award 15 to 20 grants of $5 million to $40 million, based on a district's size.
Winners of the awards will be announced in December.