A Not So Amazing Race?

The proposed allocation amounts in the Race to the Top regulations seem to have deflated some of the enthusiasm for the RTT in some of the smaller – and even mid-size – states.  The willingness to take on the brutal politics is proportional to the payout…The potential loser states are making themselves heard, why aren’t the potential winner states making more noise about keeping this a real race and not the kind where everyone gets a medal at the end?

6 Replies to “A Not So Amazing Race?”

  1. You make a great point. I have heard from friends in smaller states like CT, RI and DE that the funding amounts proposed for these states has completely taken the wind of their sails. We need states to take on these changes and strive to win, regardless of the outcome. Come on ED, show us some love!

  2. Why is the every pundit, journalists, and politician has failed to put the RTT funds in context? Because it would show that the RTT funds are too small to justify the profound changes that are required for states to qualify for a one-time payout.

    Let’s do the numbers for my home state, Washington (by way of example):

    Potential “winnings” from the RTT competition: max $ 0.7 billion (more probably $200 million, since WA has relatively low population)

    Magnitude of the State’s K-12 budget for this year: about $8 billion [about $13 billion and $16 billion, respectively for the 2007-2009 and 2009-2011 biennial periods].

    Relative magnitude:

    If Washington state were to win $0.4 billion (an optimistic estimate), this would amount to only 5% of this year’s State K-12 budget.

    Considering that the legislative changes will have profound changes for decades to come, the relative magnitude is really diminishingly small.

    The trivial magnitude of whatever amount WA might get from the RTT fund makes us wonder if the pro-RTT statements by influential individuals, organizations, and news outlets reveal STUPIDITY (the most charitable explanation), or INTENT TO MISLEAD VOTERS as to the actual interests that will most benefit from the pro-charter and pro-merit pay legislative changes that are needed in order to “win” the RTT funds.” The primary beneficiaries will be the private businesses that run the charter schools. They losers will be students, teachers, communities; of these, students from low income neighborhoods will suffer the most. It is their schools that are most coveted for conversion to charter schools, the reason being that these provide the greatest business income and profit opporunity.

    To all pundits, politicians, journalist, and pro-reform advocates, I say this: If pro-charter and pro-merit pay legislation is in the best interests of the public, then go ahead and make the case. Try to convince the public of this. And then, when you succeed, go ahead and pass the appropriate legislation. But do not rush through unpopular, controversial legislation for such weak justification as you are giving.

  3. great comment, joan — well put. the politics aren’t proportional to the payout, but folks don’t seem to get that.

    i’ve been trying to make this point for weeks to no avail, though i think that some journalists are finally figuring out that, even if you agree with the priorities, the hype isn’t matched by the dollars — and that states aren’t dummies.

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