RTTT/ESEA: Think Long Distance Running, Not Sprint

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The US DOE has posted President Obama’s education budget, which puts to rest any doubt that Race To The Top goals will inform the reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Some highlights:

  • $539 million for innovative teacher and leader reforms such as performance pay, bringing the total to $950 million, and $269 million for teacher and leader recruitment and preparation, bringing the total to $405 million.
  • $354 million for school turnaround grants, bringing the total up to $900 million.
  • $250 million for special education students, bringing the IDEA Grants to States total to $11.755B
  • $210 million for Promise Neighborhoods, a new competitive grant program modeled on the Harlem Children’s Zone that combines comprehensive social services with school improvements in order to transform whole neighborhoods.
  • $197 million for programs designed to promote a well-rounded education, supporting comprehensive literacy, STEM and other core subjects including history and arts.
  • $81 million for expanding educational options, including at total of $365.5 million in funding for charter and other autonomous schools.

A few notes:
1) Nowhere is there mention of the tainted brand “No Child Left Behind.” That’s so yesterday, with its utopian goals, non-formative assessments, and punitive salvos.
2) There’s a continued heavy emphasis on merit pay, expansion of charter schools, and closing failing schools.
3) The budget includes $14.5 billion for states to align standards with college and career-readiness, but those standards are still in the works. Achieving consensus will be like herding cats.

Here’s Arne Duncan: “Race to the Top taught us that competition and incentives drive reform. So even as we continue funding important formula programs like Title I and IDEA, we are adding money to competitive programs that are changing the landscape of our education system.”

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