Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Today is the deadline for state applications in the first round of the Race to the Top grant competition. The easy prognostication to make is that the vast majority of the 39 states (and DC) that apply will have their initial applications rejected and all will reapply in round two, due in June. Most will fail then, too.

Despite the publicly released application scoring rubric, it is difficult to know exactly how the application scoring will play out, based upon who the reviewers are, whether Gates Foundation consultant funding helped certain states frame more compelling applications, stated or implicit pressures to fund only a certain number of applications (especially in round one), the importance lent to district and union buy-in from an implementation and sustainability perspective, and the strength of big-state applications versus small-state applications. To the latter point, there's ONLY $4 billion to be spread around, and the largest states could suck up as much as $700 million apiece. Florida, I believe, is very likely to be funded in round one. California and New York have much more of an uphill battle, and Texas, well, if Gov. Goodhair (thanks, Molly Ivins) has his way, may secede from the nation as well as the Race to the Top competition.

As I've said in a past post, my fervant hope is that states that have enacted 11th-hour bailouts of their Race to the Top prospects will not markedly benefit over states that have demonstrated historic commitment to education reform and the student outcomes that go along with it. Those states that have attempted to strengthen their chances by lifting charter caps, intervening in low-performing schools, raising academic standards, and enacting similar reforms should get some credit. But states that have taken these steps prior to Race to the Top influence should be recognized. By my estimation, states such as Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and others would be appropriately rewarded for such sustained commitment and/or demonstrated results.

That all said, President Obama announced today the inclusion of $1.35 billion in his FY 2011 federal budget for a third year of the Race to the Top competition (WaPo story here). What this means exactly is still unclear, and may not be until the two initial rounds of competition are done. My hope would be that the Obama Adminsitration would use new resources to extend funding for leading states rather than broaden the competition and fund some of the reform leggards out there.

Photo courtesy of davidavery.wordpress.com



Summary of state responses to the Race (Washington Post)

Last-minute resistance to the Race (New York Times)

District stances on Race to Top plans vary (Education Week)

Turning this Race into a relay (Eduflack)

Toothless Reform? (The Enterprise Blog)

State files application (San Francisco Chronicle)

State files application, doesn't include new evaluation system, has union support (Denver Post)

New law will track teacher training programs grads (Denver Post)

State board approves teacher evaluation changes (The News Journal)

Governor Quinn signs RttT bills (Catalyst Chicago)

Fear of winning Race? (New York Times)

221 of 361 school districts sign on (Des Moines Register blog)

State board approves new performance measures (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Governor signs RttT, ed reform bill (Boston Globe)

State application finalized (Lansing State Journal)

Half of state's districts on board (The Star Ledger)

Legislature takes no action on charter school bills (New York Times)

Bid goes forward, likely without lift of charter cap (Wall Street Journal)

Mayor Bloomberg signs off on RttT plan (New York Post)

State application takes shape, union approved (The Oregonian)

Providence teachers' union sole union affiliate in state to support application (Providence Journal)

Charter school law proposed (Rapid City Argus Leader)

Student achievement will count for half of a teacher's evaluation (The Tennessean)

State submits bid (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Governor: Wisconsin 'will likely miss out' because of 'a lack of reform in Milwaukee' (Governor Doyle press release)

Editorial: Milwaukee needs a mulligan (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)