Race To Washington
Special Report - March 9, 2010
The U.S. Department of Education announced on March 4th that North Carolina is among a group of 15 states and the District of Columbia that have cleared the first phase of the Race to the Top federal education grant competition. Program grants will be awarded at the completion of phase one in April 2010 and phase two in September 2010. Forty states and the District of Columbia applied for Race to the Top funds.
North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue issued a statement thanking teachers and state and local leaders for their part in the success. “This is encouraging news for education in North Carolinabut our work isn’t over,” Governor Perdue said. “Every child in this state must graduate prepared to go on to college, a career or technical training, and we can accomplish that through innovation and rethinking the way we track our students’ progress. Race to the Top can help North Carolina move forward faster and more aggressively towards this goal.”
Congress allotted a total of $4.35 billion in the February 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to be distributed according to the discretion of the Department of Education and U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. The funds will be awarded to states based on past educational reform successes and plans to “extend reforms using college and career-ready standards and assessments; build a workforce of highly effective educators; create educational data systems to support student achievement; and turn around their lowest-performing schools.”
Some in the last year have questioned whether North Carolina would be hampered in the competition because of its arbitrary charter school caps that function as a barrier to school choice and innovation. Currently, the only way for new chart schools to open is if another charter school closes or has its license revoked by the State Board of Education, thus freeing up one of the highly coveted 100 charters allowed in the state. According to Bill Brooks, President of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, "President Obama missed a great opportunity to encourage the education policy leaders in our State to loosen the stranglehold they have on Charter Schools. I don't think the President realizes that in addition to the cap the educrats continue to place more restrictive requirements on charters. Not only are most charters performing well, they give parents the opportunity to become more involved in their school and in their children's education."
Governor Perdue will join representatives from the other finalist states at a question and answer session in Washington, D.C., March 15-17. Department of Education review panels will award phase the one funds after this session, subject to the approval of Secretary Duncan.
North Carolinians curious to see what their state’s reform agenda includes can view the narrative portion (excluding the extensive appendices) of the RTT grant application in PDF format online by clicking here.
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