Monday, March 29, 2010

Tennessee, Delaware win first Race to the Top

Just two of 15 finalists, Tennessee and Delaware, won funding from the Department of Education's Race to the Top program today. "By announcing only two winners in the first round, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held to his repeated vow that only a tiny number of states with extremely bold plans would receive money in the competition, which aims to promote educational innovation by rewarding a few states for exemplary progress in areas President Obama considers crucial to education reform," Sam Dillon of The New York Times reports.

UPDATE, March 30: The two states won because of strong support from local districts and teachers' unions, Michele McNeil of Education Week reports. But in another post, she notes what her colleague Alyson Klein pointed out to her: "Tennessee and Delaware just happen to be the home states of two powerful, Republican lawmakers the Obama administration is trying to court in its bipartisan push to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del. Both are the ranking minority members in the subcommittees in their respective chambers dealing with K-12 policy, and both are considered leading moderate voices on education who have worked well with Democrats in the past."

The news surprised Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. "We put in for half a billion dollars with no expectations whatsoever of getting all that money," he said. "We got it all." Jennifer Brooks of The Tennessean reports, "The state plans to give half the money to the school districts and use the rest for other programs." Districts will make proposals to the state over the next 90 days. "Tennessee had to commit to raise school standards, to overhaul the way it evaluated teachers and held them responsible for students' performance, and to hold the state responsible for fixing failing schools." (Read more)

Delaware is getting about $100 million. The competition awarded states for a variety of education overhaul initiatives, including improving test standards and quality, developing computerized systems to track student academic progress, improving teacher recruitment and evaluation, turning around failing schools and fostering the growth of charter schools. Several states with large rural populations voiced concerns that they were at a disadvantage in the competition because charter schools didn't or wouldn't work in such areas, the Times notes. (Read more)

No comments: