Friday, March 12, 2010

Viewpoints on Race to the Top

As for the disagreements over whether some RttT finalists were deserving, these types of "peer review" set ups are always messy.  Having spoken with people inside the DOE and elsewhere, it's clear that there is always wide disagreement even when the criteria seem clear.  Even the most like-minded people would have differences over which plans were worthy and/or showed promise – it just the nature of the beast and why a lot of us want more data-driven decision making.  You can argue on the front-end about what the mathematical criteria are, but once that's decided and you have agreed to live with all those imperfections, the outcomes take care of themselves and everyone has to abide by the rules and accept the consequences.


It's important to step back and remember that only 12 months ago some were saying that the whole set up of RttT was a failure, that the Obama administration had capitulated/sold out – yet it didn't turn out that way.  RttT has been a grand slam so far, triggering 20 years of reforms in only a few months in many states, even some that are not finalists.  And even the failures have helped stir reform efforts and gotten the public and the press to pay attention.  And recall that as recently as three months ago, some observers were contending or implying that the fix was in for most or even the vast majority of applicants to be approved.  That didn't happen either.


I'm convinced that Duncan and Obama are dedicated to taking this as far as possible, so let's continue to have some faith in them (not that it doesn't require some suspension of disbelief), and focus on how we can help them, since we are neither observers nor victims, but are players in the process.


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