Massachusetts Makes Cut For “Race to the Top” Funds

The New York Times is reporting that Massachusetts is one of the states that made it into the group of finalists in a national competition for $3.4 billion in federal financing to support an overhaul of education policies. The Commonwealth joins  seventeen other states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and the District of Columbia in the second round of competition. Winners will be announced in September and federal officials say they expect 10 to 15 of the finalists to receive funding. 

Secretary of Education of Education Arne Duncan named the finalists at the end of a major speech at the National Press Club noting:

We want to change the accountability system and stop labeling so many schools as failures. We want to recognize and reward high-achieving and high-growth schools, offering them the carrots and incentives that we know drive reform and progress.”

Read the full New York Times article here. Read the U. S. Department of Education press release here. Letter to the Governors here.

3 Responses to Massachusetts Makes Cut For “Race to the Top” Funds

  1. Shawn says:

    There’s true government for you. Create a system that assesses schools and determines how many are in need..and then when you don’t like the results throw out the whole system that we’ve spent billions for and submit to an outside group that will just burden us with more unfunded mandates.

    I love it.. “we want.. to stop labeling so many schools as failures”.. from the Secretary of Education.

    Rather than focus on the the schools that need help, they want to change the rating system again so that everyone feels good.

    Our state already has the best education results. It needs some internal work, but its better than anything that will come down from on high.

    I say, give everyone a gold sticker, and let them go away happy.

  2. Andrew says:

    Shawn, I have to disagree with your assessment.

    First, we have to remember that No Child Left Behind turned into an unfunded mandate. But even if it hadn’t, its goals simply weren’t attainable. Schools were punished even if they succeeded beyond all prior precedent simply because the standards required test scores that will never be attainable.

    (As a bit of an aside, this is representative of a larger flaw in our school system. High schools are set up as college preparatory schools. Perfect for me, but not for everyone. Everyone has their own interests and their own career paths they want to pursue; having schools designed for only one set of those is at best problematic).

    Race to the Top is allowing a lot of states to make long-overdue changes to their education systems. Change is difficult. Having a very important reward ready allows school districts and state departments of education to force through needed reforms; it gives weight to their argument. It also places a lot of pressure on states that won’t reform; their schools will fall further and further behind while those who are willing to adapt with changing times get the aid they need to succeed.

    No one’s getting a gold sticker; we’re rewarding success and putting pressure on those who are failing our children.

    It’s also worth remembering that President Obama engineered the single largest increase in spending on public education in our nation’s history. This is a democratic administration that’s serious about reforming our education system, which is a bit of a novelty. Do they have everything right? Of course not; who does? But I don’t see any other way to improve our schools that rewarding those states that reform and putting pressure on those who don’t; otherwise we’ll just be throwing more money at the problem without fixing it.

  3. Shawn says:

    I don’t know..

    The only Obama bucks I saw were sucked up by a one or two year kiss to the teacher’s unions to delay layoffs of government workers for a couple years.

    Now, we’re going to start seeing the cuts happen anyways, with little permanent gain from those funds.

    Education is a 10th amemndment role of the states. Massachusetts decided it wanted to set its curriculum and challenge to what it beleived it wanted its students to learn, and it worked.

    How soon will it take before Mass decides to get out of this new deal, once some compromise is made at the Federal level with the Southern States that forces Creationism into the science curriculum? hmmm…