Just in time, CA schools win Obama aid

In scoring federal aid from President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top competition, California schools have just barely squeaked by Capitol Hill’s red pen.

On Friday, both chambers of Congress compromised on a spending bill that cuts funding for the education reform initiative by 20 percent.

The cuts — $148 million less for the 2012 budget year — are unlikely to affect the $53 million awarded to California for early childhood learning reforms. The move by the bitterly partisan Congress, however, continues a narrative seeking to undermine the Obama administration’s spending priorities.

California’s application was rejected in the first rounds of the Race to the Top, which was launched by the president in 2009. The state’s education officials are calling their win a “pinch me” moment.

A statement from state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson:

“In these challenging fiscal times, winning this grant will help parents find and use the best programs possible, without additional costs to (them) or taxpayers.”

Congress’ $1 trillion spending bill, containing the cuts to Race to the Top, is expected to receive final passage in the Senate on Saturday.