Cross-posted from the The Hill’s Congress blog.
President Obama firmly believes that all children deserve a world-class education. When he says all children, he means all – regardless of their race, ethnicity, disability, native language, income level or zip code.
The President’s proposal to fix NCLB focuses on schools and students at-risk, and on meaningful reforms that will help these students succeed. The plan will maintain the federal government’s formula programs serving disadvantaged students, English learners, migrant children, and students with disabilities. Many people are speculating that the President wants to make these programs competitive. They are wrong. The President is committed to keeping the historic federal role of providing funding for students who need it most. He does not want the programs dedicated to at-risk students to become competitive. And he does not want to reduce the funds distributed by formula.
The President does believe there’s a role for competitive funding in education reform – and that these programs will benefit at-risk students. For too long in education, we have failed to recognize and reward success at the state, local or school level. The Race to the Top program changed that. It spurred innovation, rewarded stakeholders working together to implement reform, and gave states incentives to raise their academic standards, invest in the teaching profession, use data to improve schools, and focus on fixing their lowest-performing schools. Through Race to the Top, 46 states developed comprehensive plans to advance these reforms. Eleven states and the District of Columbia are leading the way on them. Race to the Top created incentives for 41 states to voluntarily adopt college and career ready standards. This will raise expectations for all students and end a practice of setting a low bar that was particularly harmful to poor and minority students.
With just 1 percent of the annual education spending, Race to the Top states are blazing a path for reforms for decades to come. They are creating innovative solutions and effective practices that will benefit all students.
This powerful combination of formula funding supporting at-risk students and competitive funding for reform will position America to win the global race in education. It will ensure that all students, including our most at-risk, receive the world-class education they deserve.
Arne Duncan is the Secretary of Education.