When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan opened the Race to the Top competition to individual school districts two weeks ago, he said he wanted to spur innovation “at the classroom level and the all-important relationship among teachers and students.” Now, a coalition of 16 education startups and policy organizations, herded by the nonprofit NewSchools Venture Fund, are saying the competition gets innovation wrong, the Huffington Post reports. They’re planning to send Duncan a letter Friday.

“We … enthusiastically offer our support for the latest Race to the Top-District Competition that prioritizes personalized learning,” the letter begins. “We worry that the competition as currently conceived may not maximize return on our $400 million federal investment.”

The coalition is concerned that the competition looks at innovation upside down: Instead of rewarding school districts for sharing ideas and innovating, it rewards “comprehensive personalized learning applications that may prove extraordinarily difficult to implement.”

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