Washington DC, which seems to be the proverbial whipping boy for everything wrong with majority black cities in the United States for conservatives, black or white – has proven yet again that the racist stereotypes heaped upon the city by black conservatives…
Are nothing more than the standard Tomism.
While the city certainly has some level of all of the problems endemic to an urban area, having that Republican finger out of the ruling pie by virtue of a Democrat majority seems to have assisted the City in a series of accomplishments.
Like beating out 25 States in Education reform.
The U.S. Department of Education named 16 finalists Thursday in the first round of its “Race to the Top” competition, which will deliver $4.35 billion in school reform grants.
Selected from a pool of 41 applicants are: Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee. The winners will be chosen in April, and a second round of applications accepted in June.
“These states are an example for the country of what is possible when adults come together to do the right thing for children,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.
The grants are designed to reward states that have adopted and will continue implementing innovative reforms to improve student performance. The money is part of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus law, which provided an unprecedented $100 billion for schools. Much of that has gone toward preventing teacher layoffs and addressing other budget concerns. The $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” fund is targeted specifically for education reform.
Applications were read and scored by panels of five peer reviewers. Those with the highest average score were selected to visit Washington later this month to present their proposals. The Education Department said it expects no more than half of the money to be awarded in the first phase of the competition.
Duncan said they are setting a high bar in the first phase and anticipate few winners.
“But this isn’t just about the money,” Duncan said. “It’s about collaboration among all stakeholders, building a shared agenda, and challenging ourselves to improve the way our students learn.”
The money may go to a handful of states. In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Duncan said it was a “fair statement” to anticipate a total in the single digits.
One standout rejection: California, where districts have laid off thousands of teachers and slashed academic programs in light of steep budget cuts. Lawmakers there wrangled for weeks before passing a package of school reform measures designed to make the state more competitive for the funding.
“This decision by the Obama administration demonstrates that we need to be more aggressive and bolder in reforming our education system,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said.
The Education Department asked states to concentrate their proposals on four areas prioritized in the Recovery Act: adopting standards and assessments to better prepare students for careers and college; getting high-quality teachers into classroom; turning around low-performing schools; and creating data systems to track performance.
States also were required to be legally permitted to link student performance data to teacher evaluations — a measure that created resistance among some teacher unions. Unions also have expressed concern that not all of the “Race to the Top” finalists included teacher input in forming education policy in their applications.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federal of Teachers, said real change can only succeed if teachers and administrators work together.
Can we get a “But…but…but…the Street Pirates!” here from the usual suspects?