Reflections on Winners and Losers for Race to the Top Funding

I have spent most of the past week thinking about and reading all of the fuss regarding Secretary Arne Duncan’s education initiative, Race to the Top. I have heard all of the finger-pointing that blames teachers unions and educators failure to rubber stamp state applications as the prevailing reason why this state or that one did not win funding. Honestly, it really amazes me that many of these same people are not pointing their fingers at the state officials and politicians who hastily pasted together reforms and applications in order to best satisfy Secretary Arne Duncan’s criteria for receiving the blackmail money. Why are we not closely questioning the logic of the reforms being pushed by the Obama administration? None of those so-called reform measures being promoted by this administration have any sound basis in research, yet, our governors and legislatures are scrambling to make them happen. And, this does not even take into account the Obama administration’s failure to live up to campaign promises to educators in the first place. Those who support Secretary Duncan’s NCLB 2.0 efforts often accuse those of us who point out the problems with this education policy as not wanting reform. As an educator I know even better than the politicians the need for reform. I have seen first hand how our education system fails, but just because I do not buy the “snake-oil” reform being pushed by the Obama administration does not mean I am against reform. When I think the reform measures being pushed by the politicians is going to harm education, I will continue to speak out against it. If Secretary Duncan wants me and other educators to buy in to his education policy, he must use more than bribes to convince me of their soundness.

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