Friday, March 5, 2010

Race to the Top Finalists Announced!

In a press release Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education announced 15 states and the District of Columbia as finalists for Phase 1 of the Race to the Top Competition, which will award $4.35 billion in school reform grants to state agencies pushing for classroom innovation and boosting student achievement. Chosen from a highly competitive pool of 41 applicants, the finalists are: Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Tennessee. As U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated yesterday, "these states are an example for the country of what is possible when adults come together to do the right thing for education."

Much attention has been focused on the competition as critics question whether Race to the Top is out of touch with state budget needs in putting forth billions in reform at a time when states can barely afford basic necessities. In addition, critics argue that the Department’s approach to the competition rewards states that have a history of best practices in the realm of education innovation instead of rewarding states that are just now looking to enact reform. According to the Washington Post, many proponents believe in the value of illuminating best practices in school innovation during difficult economic times because improving eduation helps to improve the overall economic health of the country.

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