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Want a textbook example of legalese, eduspeak and government jargon all rolled into one? Check out this flyer on how school districts and states can use a block of federal stimulus money meant to stabilize their budgets. Go look at it right now.

Are your eyes swimming yet? This is some of the information that San Diego Unified is getting about the stimulus money. It was included in a weekly school district update to parents, employees and the public. Let me translate.

First off, this whole flyer really epitomizes the tension between preservation and innovation in how districts are supposed to spend the school stimulus money. Schools and states are being urged to save jobs and stave off cuts with the money — or as the flyer puts it, “to fully restore FY 2009 state support for education and early childhood programs and services to the greater of the levels of support for FY 2008 or FY 2009.”

But they are also being told that to get the money, they must commit to “advancing four areas of education reform,” including making sure that excellent teachers are fairly distributed among schools in all areas, beefing up data systems that track student improvement, and supporting the poorest performing schools. The carrot is another $4.35 million in stimulus money that states and school districts will compete for next year.

So schools have to save what they are doing from budget cuts — but they also have to get creative about it. You can imagine how that would have some school districts scratching their heads or trying to pass off the same-old, same-old as new and innovative. For more details, check out my article about the push for stimulus creativity.

EMILY ALPERT

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