This was awfully easy to see coming: Hours before California college students took to the streets demanding more funding, Obama's education team in Washington D.C. announced that the California legislature's "education reforms" -- so pathetic that almost nobody is calling them reforms -- are not sufficient to award California $700 million in Race to the Top money.
In fact, California did not get one cent of the $4.35 billion the prez handed out.
Billion with a B. Not one cent.
Here's how California got itself into this hugely embarrassing predicament:
Gloria Romero, the scrappy state legislator from Los Angeles, had tried hard to fight the CTA-dominated crowd in the Sacramento statehouse. But she failed to persuade other powerful Los Angeles state legislators to back her plan to require true merit-judging of teachers, which the California Teachers Association has long opposed.
President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan say they are sick of the
current insanity, where merit plays no role in rewarding or punishing public school teachers. Some people think LAUSD and California are the epicenter of the anti-merit insanity. (See LA Weekly's recent cover story, Dance of the Lemons by Beth Barrett).
Here is what toughie Romero had to say about getting stiffed publicly, and hugely, by President Obama: Romero danced around quite a bit in her official statement released about an hour ago, using a lot of vague government-ese to make it sound as if all was well.
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But her clearest phrase was "the status quo is entrenched in our public school system ..."
Even the relatively benign reforms Romero finally managed to push through in Sacramento were refused by more than half of the California school districts and teacher unions, according to Howard Blume and Jason Song over at the Los Angeles Times blog.
Oh, and by the way, many states did take on their teacher's unions or otherwise manage to win money from Obama.
The states who got a piece of the $4 billion today are Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia (arguably the worst schools in the nation), Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, (even a corrupt and often mob-dominated state like Rhode Island got money), South Carolina and Tennessee.