Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Education Grant Program Drives Massive Reform Across the Country

A good NYT article about how many states are scrambling to compete for RttT money – my only quibble is the headline, Opposition to Education Grant Program Emerges.  How about: Education Grant Program Drives Massive Reform Across the Country?

about 40 states were rushing to complete applications for the Tuesday deadline, the first in the two-stage competition. The last-minute opposition is unlikely to derail efforts by most of those states to win some of the federal money.

Since it got under way last summer, with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan bluntly criticizing school policies in many states, legislatures and officials from Rhode Island to California have reworked laws or policies in ways that have advanced President Obama's vision: more charter schools, better qualified teachers and a national effort to overhaul failing schools.

Many critics of the administration acknowledge that the competition has produced important results.

"The administration hasn't spent a dollar yet, and they've already gotten a lot of states to make important legislative changes that are a positive for school reform," said Grover J. Whitehurst, who directed the Department of Education's research division under President George W. Bush and is now at the Brookings Institution.

The administration's initiatives have produced some of the sharpest debates since the forced busing controversies of the 1970s. In an October speech before the National Association of State Boards of Education, which he devoted to the proper federal role in education, Secretary Duncan said Washington should not merely provide money to educate poor children and the disabled, but should shake up schools coast to coast.

"Some say we're being too forceful in pushing reform, but I say we need to be aggressive," Mr. Duncan said. That posture is provoking opposition, but most states and districts are going along.

Nevada's school superintendent, Keith W. Rheault, said in an interview that some Nevada educators had initially grumbled about the federal program but had fallen silent as the state's tax revenues plummeted last year.

"When you're starving and somebody puts food in your mouth, it's amazing what states will do," Mr. Rheault said.


January 19, 2010

Opposition to Education Grant Program Emerges



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