Governor Schwarzenegger spoke before top members of California’s Legislative Branch last week, and that speech was chosen as the weekly address. Here are his words:
“Now, I have declared this week Education Week and the reason is because we want us to take this opportunity — we want to take this opportunity here and renew our commitment to our teachers and to our students and to education in general. They deserve nothing less than our full support here. The schools need our full support and the teachers need our full support.
And that is why I’m working very hard to improve our schools, especially our underperforming schools. I called a special session of the legislature and I think that’s why we’re here today. I called a special session of the legislature and the Senate took swift action by passing the laws that make us eligible for $700 million of this very important funding from the Obama administration and from our Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. They put $4.3 billion aside in discretionary funds for the Race to the Top.
And when I saw that I immediately jumped into action and got the legislators together and we all started working together and said, “Let’s go after that money.” Because we realized that the state of California was not yet competitive. We couldn’t even compete for those funds because we didn’t have certain laws in place and that’s why we proposed those laws and asked the legislature to pass them. The Senate has passed them already and now it is important for us that the Assembly must also pass this comprehensive package.
And that’s why we’re here today, to ask the Assembly to come back as quickly as possible. I urge our elected leaders to do immediately that and the Assembly must go into session and must act. As a matter of fact, Speaker Bass has already moved the session forward by a week and we want to say thank you to her for that. It shows that she has — to her, education is extremely important. And now it is important for them to vote on this and to do exactly the same as the Senate has done and to pass this, because our deadline for the application is January 19th. So that means there is not much time, so we must be competitive and this is why it’s important that they pass those laws.
Now, this, what we are talking about here — here is the vision.
• We will focus on the bottom 5 percent of our consistently low-performing schools.
• We will also allow parents more freedom so they can move the kids from a low-performing school if they’re not happy to another school or to another district.
• And we will also reinforce a school district’s authority to go and to reward the teachers. There are a lot of great teachers around and if they consistently show that they are great and they improve the test scores of the kids they should get rewards for that.
• We will also repeal California’s charter school cap. There is no reason why we have a cap on the amount of charter schools we should have.
• We will also increase the accountability by linking student achievement and teacher performance, which is very important.
So the fate of hundreds of millions of dollars for California’s schools rests in the hands of our State Assembly, so we want to just say to the State Assembly, go into session. We ask Speaker Bass for swift action so we pass those laws and then send it on so we can go and apply for those funds which is, I think we have a good shot to get at least $700 million out of these $4.3 billion.
So again we want to say — (Applause) I think we all know that education, because of our lack of funding that we have and because the economy being down and lack of money in general, that education and schools have taken a lot of cuts lately and so we cannot afford to lose those $700 million. So as I said, I’m very committed to education here in California, I’m committed to our children and I hope this is becoming a reality.”
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