Glendale Unified among 21 California applicants for Race to the Top grant

Glendale Unified is among 21 California school districts and educational consortiums that  applied for a $400-million federal grant program that has been strongly opposed by many teachers unions.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday that it received a total 371 applications -- representing more than 1,100 school districts -- for the national Race to the Top competition, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The competition, which was extended from states to individual school districts for the first time this year, is expected to award 15 to 25 four-year grants of $5 million to $40 million.

The grants are aimed at improving student achievement and teacher effectiveness, closing learning gaps among different groups of pupils and preparing all for college and careers. The awards are also aimed at promoting more individualized learning.

"We're thrilled at the response we've received from districts across the country that have developed innovative plans to drive education reform in the classroom," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. "We want to support local efforts that will close the achievement gap and transform the learning environment by funding those plans that have a clear vision and track record of success."

Not so clear, though, is the fate of Glendale Unified’s $40-million application, which lacks the required signature of the Glendale Teachers Assn.

After weeks of negotiations with the district, the reunion refused sign on, mostly over concerns about the long-term costs of continuing to fund Race to the Top programs after the grant money is exhausted. Glendale Unified also refused to take the possibility of teacher layoffs next year off the table.

Los Angeles Unified also submitted its application for $40 million without union support.

The awards are slated to be announced Dec. 31. For a list of applicants, go here.

-- Teresa Watanabe at the Los Angeles Times; and Jason Wells, Times Community News

Follow Jason Wells on Facebook, Google+ and on Twitter: @JasonBretWells.



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