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Dangling money, Obama pushes an education shift

Holding out billions of dollars as a potential windfall, the Obama administration is persuading state after state to rewrite their education laws to open the door to more charter schools and expand the use of student test scores for judging teachers, reports the New York Times — and this aggressive use of stimulus money is provoking heated debates over the uses of standardized testing and the proper federal role in education. A recent case is California, where legislative leaders are vowing to do anything necessary, including rewriting a law that prohibits the use of student scores in teacher evaluations, to ensure that the state is eligible for a chunk of the $4.3 billion in Race to the Top grants the Education Department soon will award to a dozen or so states. The law had strong backing from the state teachers union. Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee, and several other states have moved to bring their laws or policies into line with President Obama’s school improvement agenda. The administration’s stance has caught by surprise educators and officials who had hoped that Obama’s calls during the campaign for an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind law would mean a reduced federal role and less reliance on standardized testing…

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