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September 11, 2009

For More Information, Contact:
Melissa Figueroa (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO- The State Legislature has passed SB 19 by State Senator Joe Simitian, (D-Palo Alto).  The measure is designed to put to rest a controversy Simitian describes as “a tempest in a teapot” over California’s eligibility for federal funds for schools.

SB 19 is necessary said Simitian, “because of a misinterpretation by federal officials over the meaning of California state law; a misinterpretation that has the potential to preclude California access to $4.35 billion in federal education “Race to the Top” funds.”

Although Simitian and others, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, argued that the feds were misreading the state law, Simitian said he quickly concluded it was wiser to simply “eliminate, rather than prolong the debate.”

“My goal is to make this a non-issue as quickly as possible,” said Simitian. “The sooner we can put this issue to rest, the sooner we can compete for our fair share of federal funding, and the sooner we can make more informed choices for our schools and our kids.”

“The ‘Race to the Top’ competition has the potential to usher in a period of bold and far-reaching structural reform of our nation’s K-12 public education system,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. “SB 19 will help California move more quickly into having the right conversation about how to use data to make informed and targeted decisions that will have a great impact on improving student achievement.”

Specifically SB 19 does the following:

• Deletes existing language in state law which could be deemed by the federal government as preventing the use of pupil data in teacher assignment and evaluation.

• Provides clarity about system linkages between K-12 and pre-K, and between K-12 and higher education, to ensure the state’s longitudinal data system is P-20 comprehensive per the federal requirements.

• Codifies the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to ensure the state’s data system complies with federal requirements.

“Given that we’re never going to have all the money we need to educate kids in California, it’s all the more important that we make smart, well informed decisions,” said Simitian. “Whether your first priority is careful use of taxpayer dollars, or a first-rate education for our kids, we need to know how to spend our limited funds most effectively. Every school year, on behalf of six million school kids, we spend tens of billions of dollars.  We need to know what works, and what doesn’t,” said Simitian.

This latest effort to further develop a statewide data base for education builds on prior work which Simitian laughingly describes as “boring, but important.” His first effort, SB 687 (2005), increased the information that school districts share in their annual School Accountability Report Cards (SARC) about school spending at a school site, including how much they spend per student. 

Simitian’s SB 1614 (2006), created a comprehensive statewide teacher workforce database that will reveal, among other things, which programs improve student performance, and which ones don’t; as well as how many teachers in which disciplines our schools will need in the coming years.  Last year, with the passage of Simitian’s SB 1298, the stage was set for the development of a truly comprehensive P-20 longitudinal statewide system.

To learn more about SB 19 visit