Announcing the Race to the Top District Competition

Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education announced a new Race to the Top District competition today, one that is aimed squarely at the classroom level with a focus on the relationship between teachers and students.

The proposed competition offers nearly $400 million in grants and invites school districts to create plans for individualized classroom instruction aimed at closing achievement gaps and preparing each student for college and career.

“Race to the Top supports states that raise standards, build better data systems, evaluate and support principals and teachers, and dramatically transform their lowest-performing schools,” Duncan said during today’s announcement.  “It also supports the development of new and better assessments aligned with high standards.”

The new competition asks districts “to show us how they can personalize and individualize education for a set of students in their schools,” Duncan noted. “We need to take classroom learning beyond a one-size-fits-all model and bring it into the 21st century.”

The proposal offers competitive preference to applicants that form partnerships with public and private organizations to sustain their work and offer services that help meet students academic, social, and emotional needs, and enhance their ability to succeed.

The 2012 competition proposal will be available for public comment until June 8, and the Department plans to release the application in July with an October submission deadline. Awards will be announced by the end of the year.

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  1. The No Child Left Behind Legislation along with the Race to the Top is devastating Science in the Public School System. We have now created a whole generation of students that have been told by the current testing criteria that the only important subjects in school are Language Arts and Math. They will carry that opinion on in their careers as future legislators, parents, and voters. How sad for our country that Science is taking the back burner because of this message presented to our young people. With all the grants available in STEM education today, why are Science teachers’ yearly evaluations going to be based on Language Arts and Math tests from their local school systems? Our country needs more scientists. This message needs to be presented in all grade levels. Grades in Science matter. They need to matter to the student and they definitely need to matter to the educator. Science teachers’ salaries should not be dependent on subjects they are not responsible for teaching. It is our job to instill inquiry based learning and the application of the scientific method in our students. It is no wonder that universities are awash in journalism majors and there is such a lack of physical scientists.

  2. I appreciate that the government is trying to push more funds towards education. However, at a time when districts in my area are struggling to keep their doors open, the requirements for Ract to the Top make it almost impossible for these districts to compete for the money. According to the the above description, “Race to the Top supports states that raise standards, build better data systems, evaluate and support principals and teachers, and dramatically transform their lowest-performing schools,”. All I see is dollar signs. Data systems cost a lot of money. Implementing evaluations to meet Race to the Top expectations is costly and time consuming, requiring more labor. Any potential money that could be obtained by Race to the Top for small districts would be dwarfed by the outlay of money districts would need to make. In New York State alone, there are over 700 districts. How far is $400 million going to go?? Also, to the people posting comments that do not have a degree in education and/or have never worked in education, please take the time to educate yourself on the real issues in schools before shooting from the hip and blaming everyone else for the problems in schools. I see the problems in schools are a result of the socioeconomic status of the students that reside within a district and the lack of parenting that truly determines the outcomes of students’ success. Teaching would be much easier if the students were motivated and parents were supportive and involved in their child’s education.

  3. In the perennial war of ideas vs ideas there’s always the cultural clash of religion against the prevailing dogma of the ruling system of public education. Ideally, democracy has a special obligation to insure that students who are Christians don’t have to be marginalized by professional educators who are Atheists. That statement of fact or opinion of mine is of paramount importance when one believes in liberty to the point that it must be a social practice each and every day in America. Freedom of religious expression is a right of everyone . . . just as the expression of no religious influence is! Children of denominations and sects that fall under the Judeo-Christian banner, philosophically, are still existing in the framework of constitutional values that have been shaped and molded by the Founders who were in the majority deeply inspired by the Holy Bible. Enough said . . . jus make sure that children of poor Americans who attend church on a regular basis and express a conviction, will not have to feel the pains of discrimination and stigma as perpetuated by local school officials (principals, counselors, and teachers) who are secular humanists masquerading as public servants.

  4. With education budgets stretched to the limit, teachers being laid off, schools closing, teacher pay dropping, student supplies dwindling and basically an appalling state of affairs all around, is the DOE forcing states and school districts to compete for anything?

    Just give us the money already. It is ours to begin with – we paid the taxes.

    Of course, it seems more like something a politician would do rather than an educator, use school’s starvation to extort them into doing something they would never consider otherwise.

    What a sad, sad state of affairs.

    • Do you really think educator’s can navigate their way out of school dysfunction, alone, or do you conclude that policy determines the bad outcomes (failing educators and students)?
      Do educator’s in every classroom know how to handle 20 to 40 kids, i.e., provide high-quality productive efficient instruction that delivers core literacy (reading, writing, maths, biology, geology, chemistry, and preferrably physics, too (by way of experiments)? Don’t you think team collaberation, in this nation-wide format, will result in a best practice model or two which educator’s can follow and fine tune?

      And don’t dysfunctional team dynamics (possible in any human organization) keep educator’s from achieving ((and enjoying their students) sucess)?
      When this happens, a competent fair “referee” is needed. School Boards and complaint processes have failed to address ctritical operations failure in every classroom (I bet at least one or two kids in each grade experience de facto educational neglect, and then added emotional/social abuse, as well, even from parents), for a long time now.

      At such critical times when adults precisely “need a real friend” for guidance, help, and true support, instead of the old “work harder” advice when the environment and real learning opportunity stink and needs critical and decisive reform (clearing off the desks, so to speak), I would very much wish that everyone engage and provide critical commentary to make sure the basic strategy and game plan is a winning strategy for educators and students in every school and classroom.

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