More States Drop Out of 'Race'
By Stateline Staff
Alaska and Texas raised eyebrows last year when they declined to join the Race to the Top, the Obama administration's effort to revamp the nation's K-12 schools by handing out $4.35 billion in grants to states that change their education policies. But with 40 jurisdictions applying for grants and only two winners — Delaware and Tennessee — announced in the first round of the competition, more states are deciding not to participate in round two.
Indiana's superintendent of public instruction announced Thursday (April 22) that the state would not submit an application in the second round of the competition because it could not win the support of teachers' unions, The Indianapolis Star reported . The application process is rigorous and time-consuming, and Tony Bennett, the superintendent, said it would not be worth the state's time without the backing of most teachers. Strong union buy-in is seen by many education experts as an essential component of a successful application for federal money.
Indiana's announcement follows a 9-to-0 decision by the Kansas Board of Education earlier this month not to apply for the second round of grants, as the Lawrence Journal-World reported . Kansas does not have a system for tying teachers' compensation to student achievement and it lacks a statewide evaluation system for teachers and principals — both considered flaws in the eyes of federal reviewers, the Journal-World said.
Even in Florida, which came close to winning federal money in the first round of the competition, Governor Charlie Crist recently vetoed sweeping legislation that would have tied teacher pay to student achievement, The New York Times reported . Crist, who is running for the U.S. Senate, said he was responding to a widespread outcry against the bill from teachers and parents. It's unclear whether his veto will take Florida out of the running for a second-round grant, but it is unlikely to help the state's chances.