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REFORM: Unanswered Questions About "Race To The Top"

Rocket02 Q:  How many states currently meet all the requirements for receiving funds?

The USDE says everyone's eligible to apply but won't say how many are currently in any kind of a position to do so. My guess is no more than 15.

Q:  Which states (besides CA and NY) currently aren't eligible (ie, firewalls, lack of data systems, charter caps)?

Again, the USDE won't say who's out of the running if they don't make substantial changes or commitments. Am working on this.

Q:  About how many states are going to get funded, and what is the grant amount going to be?

Big surprise -- no answers on this one, either.  My guess is 8-10 states, max.

Q:  Is RttT funding linked to any larger, ongoing funding sources (FIE, Title I)?

I'm pretty sure the answer to this one is no, which begs the question why would a state jump through lots of hoops to get so little money.

Q:  Have the main stakeholders -- chiefs, governors, teachers, state legislators -- indicated their interest and approval in the RttT process?

The teachers are hedging their bets (see AFT presser below and NEA quote here).  Not sure about the others, but I think not.

AFT Leaders To Scrutinize, Weigh in on

‘Race to the Top’ Education Fund Regulations


WASHINGTONThe American Federation of Teachers will judge the proposed federal regulations for the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” fund released today by how much the program helps students, whether it is fair to teachers, whether it is transparent to the public, and whether it requires shared responsibility.


AFT President Randi Weingarten, Executive Vice President Lorretta Johnson and 10 local and state AFT leaders were among the 125 invited guests at a U.S. Education Department event at which President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke about the new fund and their shared commitment to improve public education.  


The Race to the Top fund will provide grants to encourage and reward states for plans in four core education reform areas aimed at improving teacher and principal quality, academic standards, data collection and turning around low-performing schools.


The Education Department has listed 19 criteria on which to judge grant proposals. “We are going to use our own four criteria when reviewing the department’s plan,” Weingarten said. “They are: Does it help kids? Is it fair and helpful to educators? Is it transparent? And does it require shared responsibility? If the answer is ‘yes’ for each, then we have a real chance of improving the quality of teaching and learning and raising student achievement.”


Weingarten said the AFT will withhold final judgment until the final regulations are issued, following the 30-day comment period, of which AFT leaders will take full advantage.


“Will we agree with everything? I doubt it. But hopefully we will agree that teacher evaluations must be improved the right way. We need meaningful, fair and multiple measures for supporting and evaluating teachers so that evaluations aren’t based on one observation by a principal or one standardized test score,” Weingarten said. “But both the president and Secretary Duncan understand that teachers are essential to education reform and that their voices need to be heard as we launch this major offensive to improve public education.”


Weingarten said she was pleased that the administration wants to implement reform with teachers, not to them. “Emphasizing the importance of obtaining teacher union support and a sign-off by local union leaders on the application is an initial down payment on fulfilling this commitment,” she said.


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