A recent House panel vote has led to the possible resurrection of the Race to the Top program, says, Klein (2010) of Education Week. The House panel recognized the benefit of the program and wishes to extend its use into the 2011 school year. Klein (2010) reports the Obama Administration is excited about the vote, even though the House panel did not agree to the Administration’s original price tag. Still, some constituents are questioning the Race to the Top program, as they don’t understand what it does.
To brief the program, the United States Department of Education explains the Race to the Top program as the answer to a state’s need form reforming their education system. The program, created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was the basic answer to ending a constant failure of our nation’s children (Klein, 2010). The best reformation processes are awarded monetary- or merit base supplements. So, how does the Dept. of Education define education reformation?
There are several elements that encompass education reformation. However, the Dept. of Education is concerned with four key areas of a state’s growth. Those areas include:
-Adopting rigorous standards and testing assessments that prepare students for the 21st century and beyond.
-Creating and implementing data tracking systems that monitor student achievement, growth and regression, to effectively combat these issues.
-Seeking, employing, retaining and training excellent educators to help improve student growth and achievement.
-Recreating the lowest achieving schools, into the better performing, top- notch schools.
While data is still very new, there are some signs that the Race to the Top program is working well for our nation’s education systems. For example, last year’s winners- Delaware and Tennessee- both have state- wide buy-in and new laws to aid in transforming all schools within those states (Hamilton, 2010). More importantly, the Race to the Top program is forcing states to actually budget their finances and stick to those budgets. One penalty of the Race to the Top program forces any school that goes over their proposed budget- without authorization and approval- to lose their claim to grant funds which the program provides! So, not only are the teaching and assessment standards changing, but, schools are learning how to be more responsible with their budgets and finances.
Now, the House panel has agreed to extend the program to the 2011 school year. The House panel agreed to set out $800 million dollars towards the Race to the Top program, while also reinvesting $600 million dollars into the Investing in Innovation grant program; which was designed to improve teacher effectiveness and boost low- performing schools’ test scores (Klein, 2010). Likewise, the bill will include increases in funding for Title I schools- low income schools. Increases are forecasted in the amount of 16.2 billion, from the 15 billion that Title I received last year. Also, Special Education programs will receive 13 billion this year. Overall, including the Race to the Top program, the Education Department for the United States will receive approximately $71.9 billion this year, all according to Amanda Klein of Education Week.
Thank you to the Stimulus program, but all is not well, just yet. Programs that have been proven for years to show gains- while modest at best- have been cut. Federal Pell Grants and Head Start, names two of America’s proven education programs which face cuts to their annual budgets this year (Klein, 2010). There are concerns that some programs like Teacher Incentive and Loan Repayment programs have lost dramatic amounts of money. Should this be the case, teaching- as a profession- may not be attracting as many new recruits as necessary. There simply isn’t enough information to make a good assessment yet. Like all other things, good program inception, comes at a price. I, for one, believe that this price tag has promise.
Hamilton, J. (2010). Delaware and Tennessee win first race to the top grants. U. S. Department of Education. Retrieved on July 19, 2010 from: http://www2.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2010/03/03292010.html
Klein, A. (2010). House panel votes for another year of race to the top. Education Week Online. Retrieved, July 18, 2010 from: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2010/07/house_panel_votes_for_another.html