In the hope of encouraging school districts across the nation to come up with innovative reforms that will boost student achievement and teacher effectiveness, the U.S. Department of Education is again this year offering Race to the Top grants. The department has a big pot of money to work with and Glendale Unified officials are again seeking grant funding of up to $30 million.
Last year the GUSD made a valiant attempt — in the form of a 503-page document — to secure such a grant, which was at the time worth up to $40 million. Everything was in order with that application except one critical component: the required signature of the Glendale Teachers Assn. president.
Despite months of negotiations, Tami Carlson, the union's leader at the time, refused to sign off on the proposal, citing concerns she had about the long-term costs of the proposed programs once the grant money was spent. She also balked because district officials would not guarantee, in the face of a large structural deficit, that teacher layoffs would not take place.
The Glendale Teachers Assn. and its leader may have had valid concerns, but now, a year later, there is new union leadership in place. We hope there is a better meeting of the minds and the Race to the Top application stands an improved chance making it into the hands of those who will decide which schools will share in the next round of awards. If Glendale Unified isn't even in the game, it doesn't stand a chance of winning.