Monday, March 08, 2010

Joe Williams on Race To The Top:

Here's DFER's Joe Williams, explaining why he feels both baffled and enthusiastic:


Dear Education Warrior:


I have been fielding a lot of perplexed calls and emails asking how in the world New York made the list of finalists in the federal "Race To The Top" extravaganza. In one press account I was accurately quoted as saying I was "baffled" and in another I was accurately quoted as being enthusiastic that we could use this good news to take things to the next level and achieve meaningful change in the New York Legislature.


Baffled and enthusiastic. That's me. (It happens to me all the time: When my kids do their homework without my prodding, to cite just one example, I am both baffled and wildy enthusiastic.)


So after months of work around the country on the Race To The Top, I share New York State Chancellor Merryl Tisch's sentiments, as conveyed by the New York Times this morning: Being listed as a finalist is great news for New York, but we haven't won anything yet. And I (like Chancellor Tisch) continue to believe we have some work to do this Spring in the Legislature if we are going to bring home the bacon for New York's public schools.


Does anyone in New York really believe we are there yet? (Insert chirping sound here.)


I still feel the same way that I did back in August when I posted about this on the National Journal blog (


"If New York doesn't lift a finger and it gets funding in the Race, Obama and Duncan will essentially be lifting a finger (you know which one) to all of the other states that are doing everything they can to show they are ready for change and reform."


I just can't imagine they want to do that.


We have three months before the June 1 deadline for Round 2.  Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.



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