LOS ANGELES /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today joined the Reverend Jesse Jackson at an assembly at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles to challenge young people to take a more active role in building a stronger future for California. The Governor called on students to work hard in school and persevere through challenges on the road to graduation and beyond. In addition, the Governor again called on the legislature to act swiftly to pass his education reform package to make California eligible and highly competitive for the $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act).

“I am so proud of California’s students who continue to make academic gains every year and I encourage each and every one of them to keep up the good work,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “While students have a responsibility to work hard to succeed in school it is up to adults to help provide them the opportunity to do so, which is why I again urge the legislature to pass my education reform package so that we can put hundreds of millions of dollars into our classrooms and give our students the chance to fulfill their dreams.”

On July 24, President Obama and Secretary Duncan proposed federal eligibility and selection criteria for states to compete for Race to the Top funds, the single largest pool of discretionary funding for education reform in U.S. history. Currently, California is ineligible to apply.

Governor Schwarzenegger made it clear that he would fight for every dollar of Recovery Act money and that is why he called a special legislative session and announced a legislative package that will ensure California meets Race to the Top eligibility and competitiveness requirements. The majority of the Governor’s proposed reforms were introduced as a bipartisan measure by Senator Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), Senator Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) and Senator Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) in SBX5 1.

To view the Governor’s proposed reforms to ensure California is eligible to apply and be highly competitive for Race to the Top funding click here.

Dorsey High School serves approximately 1,900 students in grades nine through twelve in South Los Angeles. Based on recently released accountability data, the school’s Academic Performance Index (API) increased 28 points from last year, exceeding its 13-point growth target. African American students, who comprise more than 55 percent of the student population, made especially impressive API growth this year; subgroup API increased 47 points, bringing its API to 583, above the school average of 573. Socioeconomically disadvantaged students also made impressive API gains, improving 20 points from last year to 567 from 547.

On Tuesday, Gov. Schwarzenegger announced that an additional $1.3 billion in expedited State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF), further education funding available through the Recovery Act, will be available to California schools, colleges and universities this year. In May, the U.S. Department of Education provided California $3.2 billion for the first phase of SFSF, 67 percent of California’s total $4.9 billion allocation, to help mitigate the effects of budget reductions to education. The second installment of SFSF funds was not scheduled to be released to states until December; however, the Recovery Act permits states facing extreme budget difficulties to apply for 90 percent of funds during the first phase. Gov. Schwarzenegger petitioned for 90 percent of the state’s total SFSF allocation on August 27 and the U.S. Department of Education has granted it. Under the Governor’s leadership, California was also the first state in the nation to be federally approved for SFSF funds.