$34 million? Schools say no thanks

Turning their backs on millions of dollars–and potentially controversial changes that come attached to the money–a divided Broward County, Fla., School Board rejected signing on to the state’s application for competitive federal “Race to the Top” grants, against the recommendation of Superintendent Jim Notter, reports the Miami Herald. The 5-4 vote means Broward will not be eligible for some $34 million it could have received over four years from the $4.35 billion Race to the Top initiative, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s education agenda. The Florida Department of Education had given school boards, superintendents, and teachers unions until midnight Jan. 12 to agree in writing that–if Florida is awarded the money–districts and unions will implement the state’s plans for reforms. Before the deadline expired, 55 of the state’s 67 county school districts had signed on, including Miami-Dade. States are not guaranteed any money in the competition. Winning states would keep half of the funding at the state level; the other half would go to participating districts. But Broward joins other districts across the nation that are balking at a reform that would link teacher pay to student performance. “We have come [too far] in trying to de-emphasize the [Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test] to now agree to a plan that is going to reemphasize the FCAT,” said board member Stephanie Kraft…

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