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October 27, 2016

19 States Make Second Round for Education Grants

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Pictured: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (Photo: Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger)

President Barack Obama’s new education reform program is making headway as it made its selection of second round recipients for grant funding on Tuesday.  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made the announcement of 19 finalist states.  The plan is to allocate $3.4 billion in federal economic stimulus money towards states whose comprehensive school reform plans meet the standards for Obama’s Race to the Top initiative.

Duncan added that 10 to 15 of the selected states are expected to win money from the federal stimulus-funded program known as “Race to the Top.”  These 10 to 15 states will share what’s left of the program’s $4.35 billion fund depending on the size of the winners.  In an effort to improve education and support semi-autonomous charter schools, Obama’s pet project is being called a “quiet revolution” in education by Duncan.

The first round of funding of $600 million was given to Tennessee and Delaware earlier this year, while the finalists of the second round are competing for the $3.4 billion left in the program.  Financially struggling states like California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, are requesting more than $6 billion in their Race to the Top applications, even though there is only half of that money available.  Two of the nation’s best-performing public school states, Ohio and Maryland, have also made the second-round.

The competition was a way to stimulate innovation within the country’s public schools, and the plan seems to be working.  Round 2 finalists have showed focus on fostering qualifying teachers, including using data to monitor teacher performance.

The program has taken criticism for only benefiting some states rather than providing appropriate financial support for longer-term implementation.  The winners of the education grants will be announced in September.

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