Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Obama’s “Race to the Top”

By on April 10, 2009

So US News is reporting that President Obama and the educator leaning out of the sidecar, Arne Duncan, have created  “a $5 billion ‘Race to the Top’ fund for states that have made progress on the following fronts: 1) improving teacher effectiveness, 2) creating better assessments aligned to rigorous standards, 3) fixing failing schools, and 4) using data systems to track student achievement. The details of how states can qualify for this money will be released later this year.”

I’m all for competition, and I do think that setting up some stakes ups the ante of the game, but I’m kinda wincing here to see how this all boils down.  I just think that pitting states against each other for the funds that we all need makes me nervous and it’s bound to end up as an issue of equity.  

What if different states were to tackle different objectives?  What if California was to tackle #4 and Arizona was to tackle #1?  What if each state vowed to improve one failing element in education?  Would not the whole country level accordingly?  I mean, let’s face it, it’s the states that CAN’T figure out how to fund and ensure reform that need the money.  The state that’s got it all figured out surely wasn’t that far off the mark to begin with, right?

I hope I’m wrong.  I hope this is the answer, that we can all compete, come away with a winner, yet all benefit from the win. 

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