In another cockfight between California and Washington over education, the U.S. Department of Education has rejected California’s application – and only California’s application – in the third round of Race to the Top. The denial exasperated the seven California school districts that led the state’s effort and were counting on $49 million earmarked for California as critical to do the work they had committed to do.This state gave, and will give again, 55 electoral votes to Obama. I'm sure some people think that's enough for us to get the money, but it clearly isn't. Then we chucked our world-class math standards for watered-down national "common core" standards. We've moved towards evaluating teachers based on student performance. And we don't even get any more education money for doing this.
In a statement Wednesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst each criticized the federal government’s inflexibility in not accepting what they described as California’s “innovative” approach of giving control of the reforms to local school districts. Seven unified districts, including Los Angeles, Frenso, and Long Beach, formed a coalition known as CORE, the California Office to Reform Education, to compete for round three and work together on the reform.
Torlakson also said the federal government failed to scale back its expectations for Race to the Top reforms during this fiscal crisis. “I had hoped the federal Administration would be mindful of the financial emergency facing California’s schools and the severe constraints it has placed on state resources,” he said. (In the third round of RTTT, the federal government slashed the available funding from $3.4 billion to $200 million. For California, that reduced the potential award from as much as $700 million to $50 million.)
The federal government saw things differently. In a statement congratulating the other seven states in line for the money, federal officials said California “submitted an incomplete application.”
Those of you who thought NCLB was the problem, how do you respond to this disaster?
Update, 11/26/11: Ouch.
When does a four-page cover sheet cost $49 million? When it's part of California's application for the latest round of federal school improvement funding.
Had they signed the cover sheet, state officials would have been endorsing the establishment of statewide teacher evaluation methods – a commitment they would not make.
Federal education officials announced that the state's bid for Race to the Top funds was denied earlier this week because its application was deemed by the U.S. Department of Education to be incomplete.