Saturday, September 11, 2010

California loses out on Race to the Top…and nobody cares.


Simply put, Race to the Top was a shitty incentive program.

I know it’s late in the game to talk about it, but I think that a teacher’s perspective would be helpful for the people in Washington D.C.  That way, when the decision comes about to make the next fad in education reform legislation, it won’t suck so badly. 

Race to the Top was an attempt at education accountability by the federal government where certain standards were set that states could attempt to match.  States then applied for the funds and if they were accepted, they received a one time cash advance for the glorious work that was done advancing education reform.  There were a few problems with Race to the Top (RTTT); unions had to agree, the program favored states with already low standards, and the money was a one-time thing.  California applied twice and was denied twice.  In my opinion the changes were already going to be implemented in the long run, the changes shouldn’t be dictated by one time funding, and the changes probably will do little to help the real problems in education.

If the federal government wants to really help out in education then it’s going to have to be more than a pitiful one-time lob of dollars at changes that could seriously impact state governments.  The kind of data management that the feds want is legitimate, but that costs some serious cash in a time that serious cash doesn’t really exist.  Come out with a serious campaign to deal with the issues around education, and believe it or not, the President might actually bring about solutions to other social issues plaguing the United States.

And California might want to consider exactly what’s going on with its education dollars in terms of spending.  A recent study by Ed Source shows that California is 43rd in the nation in per-pupil spending.  As much as people want to bitch about the percentage of the budget that goes to education, the per-pupil spending is a clear sign that the 8th largest economy in the world is not prioritizing education.            

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