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7 Calif. School Districts Team Up To Push Reform

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Seven California school districts on Monday said they are teaming up to push ahead with education reforms that previously failed to gain widespread traction with districts and unions throughout the state.

The seven superintendents, who represent some of the state's largest school systems and more than 1 million students, announced the creation of a nonprofit organization called California Office of Education Reform.

The group will be launched with $3 million in donations from philanthropic foundations, including California Education Partners.

CORE will pursue reforms such as accountability and review procedures for teachers, common standards for English and math instruction, more effectively sharing of data, and working collaboratively to turn around struggling schools.

It will also work with state lawmakers to pursue school reform legislation, said Michael E. Hanson, superintendent of the Fresno Unified School District and president of the new group.

"CORE's purpose is bottom-up education reform that is nimble enough to pursue funding and reforms outside the politics of education," he said in a statement.

The seven districts -- Los Angeles, San Francisco, Long Beach, Fresno, Sanger, Clovis and Sacramento -- agreed to pursue the reforms as part of the state's entry in the Obama Administration's Race to the Top competition for federal funding.

California did not win the funding after the reforms were resisted by many districts and unions, but the application process opened communication among reform-oriented districts.

Superintendents said forming the nonprofit will give momentum to the reform effort.

© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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