Race to the Top: Who's In, Who's Out
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
States have until Tuesday (June 1) to apply for the second round of funding in Race to the Top, the Obama administration's signature effort to improve the nation's schools by handing out $4.35 billion in federal money for education.
Only two states — Delaware and Tennessee — were declared winners in the first round of the competition, which seeks to improve the nation's K-12 schools by giving grant money to states that make changes supported by the Obama administration. Delaware won $100 million; Tennessee claimed $500 million.
At least nine states — Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming — won't be participating in Round Two, according to a tally by The Associated Press . "None of the nine did very well in the first round and needed to pass new education laws to be competitive," the AP reported. "Some wanted to do so, but decided there wasn't enough time before the Tuesday deadline for the second round."
At least 34 states plan to apply in the second round of the competition, according to The Wall Street Journal , compared with about 40 that applied in the first round.
On Friday (May 28), one of the biggest potential hurdles in New York's hopes for a share of the funding was removed when state lawmakers voted to more than double the number of charter schools in the state. The move, which was a major point of debate and happened despite a standoff between the legislature and Governor David Paterson over the budget, puts New York in the running for as much as $700 million, The New York Times reported . Lawmakers also voted to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores, another provision that is seen as helpful to the state's chances in Race to the Top.
New York is not the only state that has made far-reaching education changes in the hopes of being awarded federal money. Colorado passed a landmark bill that sharply increases teacher accountability and eliminates tenure; the new law should improve the state's the chances in Race to the Top, according to The Denver Post . Louisiana and Oklahoma also passed laws changing their tenure and teacher evaluation rules, The New York Times reported .
The Wall Street Journal catalogued other noteworthy changes around the country: "Delaware and Illinois mandated teacher evaluations be tied to student achievement. Michigan and Massachusetts passed laws allowing state intervention in low-performing schools or districts. Tennessee and Iowa eased restrictions on the number of charter schools, public schools typically run by private entities created to foster competition in public education."
Winners of the second round of Race to the Top will be announced in late August or September. The grants are made by the U.S. Department of Education.