Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Race to the Top's first round sends out mixed messages on school reform

This Washington Post editorial asks a very good question -- and gives the unions the blasting they so richly deserve (highlighted below):

Overall, the Race to the Top has had a galvanizing and beneficial effect on reform efforts in many states. And we don't minimize the aims of Tennessee and Delaware or their accomplishments in forging consensus behind impressive reform plans. Lawmakers in both states enacted meaningful reforms -- moves that should set an example for places, such as Maryland, that are still dithering over proposals to strengthen teacher effectiveness and promote student achievement. Collaboration is always desirable. But should it be required? Should the federal government be granting unions and local boards effective veto power over school reforms?

Florida, Louisiana and the District face a dilemma as they contemplate the next round of Race to the Top competition. Officials in all three places are fighting the good fight to change a status quo that does little to help students. Unions for the most part have cast themselves as defenders of that indefensible status quo. Alas, the lesson that officials may take from the first round is that perhaps it's better to lower your sights sufficiently to achieve buy-in from the education establishment.

The bulk of the $4 billion in Race to the Top funds is yet to be distributed. Mr. Duncan should adjust the ranking process to encourage states to strive for what's really needed, not just what's politically comfortable.


Race to the Top's first round sends out mixed messages on school reform

Washington Post editorial

Saturday, April 3, 2010; A10

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