Race To 3.4 Billion Government Dollars!

The Obama adminstration’s Race To The Top (RTTT) is over, at least for now. Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, announced on Tuesday that nine states and the District of Columbia have been awarded a share of the $3.4 billion left in Round Two of the federal grant competition.

(You may remember
that  in March only two states, Tennessee and Delaware, were announced as winners in Round One.)

This time, the winners were the District of Columbia (D.C.), Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island. Thirty-five states, plus D.C., originally applied in this round, a number that was whittled down to just 19 finalists.

Notably absent from the list were Colorado and Louisiana, which had high hopes of winning grants after aggressively changing elements of state education policy, and California, which had looked to the prospect of up to $700 million in new federal aid amid a continued fiscal crisis.

So what makes a winner? Out of a possible 500 points, Massachusetts earned the top score with 471.0, and Ohio the lowest with 440.8.

“These states show what is possible when adults come together to do the right thing for children,” declared Duncan. “Every state that applied showed a tremendous amount of leadership and a bold commitment to education reform. The creativity and innovation in each of these applications is breathtaking,” he continued. “We set a high bar and these states met the challenge.”

So what exactly was the challenge? To qualify for the RTTT money, states had to commit to closing historic achievement gaps and to getting more students into college. Sounds good, right? But they had to do it in more than 30 specific ways dictated by President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan. Here’s a sample:

*  Turning around their lowest-achieving schools
*  Adopting common standards
*  Revamping their data systems
*  Improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on measuring student     growth (using standardized test scores)
*  Supporting charter schools
*  Connecting teacher and principal salaries to student performance (i.e. merit pay)

While education experts applaud the idea of lending support to the quest for excellent schools, not everyone agrees with the methods that the Department of Education have endorsed.  Many believe that states desperate for money pushed ahead quickly and changed their rules without much conviction, just to give themselves a better chance.

Others fear that the Race to the Top is trying to design a one-size-fits-all solution to education reform, exacerbating the problems that began with George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.

And for a competitive grant program, funded through the federal stimulus package, there is a remarkable cloud of secrecy surrounding this program. Who are the judges? How exactly did they come up with these numbers?

Finally, the United States Constitution gives the ultimate authority to create and administer education to the states. The Race to the Top gives the federal government a much greater say over education reform in the states that win. Is this a good thing?

Creative Commons - Obama-Biden Transition Project


Marıanna M.
Marıanna M.7 years ago


Ron Avila
Ron Avila7 years ago

a difficult issue - thanks for the good article

Patricia B.
Patricia Bucio7 years ago

Good article.

Iga Magda
Iga Magda7 years ago


Chris L.
Chris L7 years ago

Lly why should you need a thousand pages just to get the money your taxpayers donated to the federal government to pay for education? Our state is blowing their Race to the Top dollars and using it like Chap 70 funds which by everything I researched they were not supposed to be able to do. They are back funding cuts they made.

If taxpayers are going to donate to the federal gov't for education they should not be expected to get down on their knees and beg Repbulicans or Democrats to get the money back. It is a stupid, broken, system of funding.

lyn L.
l L7 years ago

As usual; reading the above statements makes me think leave education to the educators and those wh have an interest in educating the young who need it.
As far as Governor Chris Chistie I have nothing but more republican contempt for him. But that for the people of New Jersey to figure out. He came in like a hidden wolf in sheeps clothing but republican! He promised you the world and proceeds to dismantle your state. He doesn't form partnerships but tyranny. He demands perfection by a timetable and cannot even read with understanding how to fill out an application for one of the very important grants of monies to be given a state and his ignorance blew it. A teacher does not have the luxury of blaming someone else. Now do they? Now; all other states have to submit their information. In My Opinion Christie is a fool. And if he can't handle the governors business then he shouldn't be governor and if he messes up opportunites for his state and his people to prosper maybe he shouldn't be governor.
Oh New Jersey! You voted him in. Guess when you get tired you'll get rid of him.

Craig C.
Craig C7 years ago

Bush,Obama,Clinton, do you really think they want educated people? Its like big brother have and have not's, but only its for their life time not just a week without!! Very scary what they try to sell. The governor of NJ said it best one paper out of place and throw the whole thing away, how great is this, and to think that they will have the power over my health wow!!!

Sheila N.
sheila s7 years ago

It's not about money it's about control. Homeschoolers all over the nation can tell you it doesn't cost a fortune to teach a child. They're throwing money at a failed system and giving education the usual lip service so it looks like they're doing something.

James S.
James S7 years ago

$3 billion to educate people but $600 billion to blow people up....It just boggles my mind at how stupid that is.

Green Colur
Green G7 years ago

It's good to have education with out spending too much money and with good situation and to be a good universities with high level of teaching and new methods of teaching for rest of our life.