Gov. has plan for troubled schools

February 27, 2008 8:05:32 PM PST
Governor Schwarzenegger has a problem on his hands: how to improve test scores in nearly a hundred California schools, while at the same time, cutting education spending.

Part of his plan, make California the first state in the country to use a provision of the No Child Left Behind Law.

Governor Schwarzenegger says it's time to help the 97 California school districts that have failed for four years in a row to improve test scores under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The state risks losing $45 million in federal funding for those districts, if the Board of Education doesn't approve intervention plans by September.

It's not like a hostile takeover. We're going to work with those schools. It's not about punishing anyone. It's about working together," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) California.

Collectively, the 97 low-performing school districts educate a third of California's 6.3 million students. Nearly half in those districts are poor; a quarter of the students there do not speak English fluently.

Among the sanctions the state could impose include firing administrators and replacing the curricula.

Ravenswood City Elementary in San Mateo is one of the seven schools facing the harshest punishment. Seventy-percent of students there are English Language Learners.

"Our test scores have been moving up slowly, but they have been moving in a positive direction. Again, we have a lot of new teachers, so it's going to take time," said Ravenswood Schools Superintendent Maria De la Vega.

No question, it'll be a tough road for schools to work their way off the low-performing list.

At Northwood School, the principal says there is hope. After years of being an under-performing school, it finally turned itself around last year.

Teachers targeted the 40-percent of students for whom English is a second language.

"We set up intervention programs specifically for them. We focused on non-linguistic representations. That means using pictures, graphics organizers," said Northwood School Principal Renee Scott.

The question is: can the Governor keep that list from growing as he readies to cut 4 billion dollars from all schools in the coming budget year.


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