Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia submitted applications June 1 for the second round of the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top competition to boost student achievement and advance school reform, reports the Associated Press. The program, part of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus law, will provide $4 billion in funding to states that are implementing innovative reforms—such as tying student performance to teacher evaluations—to turn around failing schools and close the achievement gap. Tennessee and Delaware were awarded $600 million in the first round. Another $350 million has been set aside for a separate competition to improve the quality of assessments. To improve their chances of winning a grant, many states passed significant reform laws that allowed for the development of more charter schools and tightened teacher accountability and tenure requirements—reform initiatives that are valued by the Obama administration but are controversial with teacher unions. Nine states that submitted applications last time did not reapply by the June 1 deadline. Some, including Minnesota, said they did not receive enough support from unions, while others were wary of passing reform laws and adopting common academic standards across states. Finalists for the remaining funds will be selected over the summer, and winners will be announced in September. The Education Department said 10 to 15 states could win grants……Read More
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Several states walk away from ‘Race to the Top’ millions
About two dozen states are going back to Washington for another shot at billions in education grants under the federal “Race to the Top” program, but at least nine others with more than 7 million children are opting out of trying a second time, reports the Associated Press. For them, a chance at hundreds of millions of dollars wasn’t enough to overcome the opposition of teachers unions, the wariness of state leaders to pass laws to suit the program, and fears of giving up too much local control. Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming will all be on the sidelines for the second round, along with a handful of other states that didn’t apply the first time. So far, only two states—Delaware and Tennessee—have been approved for the money. This could be the last time “Race to the Top” money is given out. The Education Department probably will dole out the remaining nearly $4 billion in the second round, and it’s unlikely Congress will allocate more. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the department was “thrilled with the level of participation we’ve seen,” and the reforms enacted by the states that did apply “makes them all winners when it comes to furthering the state of education for our kids.”…Read More