EDUCATION UPDATE: Race to the Top (Again!)
Sunday, May 15, 2011
By Christopher Haight
As a part of the final deal on FY2011 appropriations, Congress afforded Race to the Top an additional $700 million. While this is a steep drop from its initial $4 billion investment under the Recovery Act, it still represents a significant win for the Obama administration as it seeks to sustain one of its signature grant programs and education reform initiatives.
The details of how Race to the Top: The Sequel will be implemented are still scarce, as neither Congress nor the U.S. Department of Education released much guidance on future competitions. However, Congress did specify a new priority for a Race to the Top competition: Early Childhood Learning. Previously, Race to the Top focused on High Standards and Assessments, Use of Data to Improve Instruction, Great Teachers and Leaders, and Turning Around Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools.
The new priority has increased speculation there may be a grant competition focused solely on early childhood education innovations. The administration has also previously expressed interest in expanding eligibility to include local school districts, not just state departments of education. Whatever the intent of the Department, we should know soon as funds must be allocated by December 31, 2011.