RTTT States May Lose Funding if They Drop Reform Efforts

November 18, 2010
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Also in Issue 1, Volume 11:

School Improvement Grant Surprises: 10 Things the Data Show

ED Expands Data Tools

Lame Duck Congress May Determine Fate of Additional Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation Funding
At-a-Glance: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

RTTT States May Lose Funding if They Drop Reform Efforts

While future funding of the Race to the Top (RTTT) program will be debated in the lame duck session and the new Congress, the already awarded Race to the Top funds may be in jeopardy in some states.

In Ohio and Maryland, in particular, there is fear that RTTT funds may be revoked as state reforms central to the states' RTTT proposals are on the chopping block.

In Ohio, Governor-elect John Kasich said during his campaign that he would like to do away with Ohio's evidence-based funding program, which was passed on current Governor Ted Strickland's watch in 2009.  Strickland has said that getting rid of the program would eliminate one of the core pieces of the Ohio RTTT proposal, making the state ineligible to receive the $400M it won in the competition.

A representative of the U.S. Department of Education was quoted in a Columbus newspaper, saying,

"States won Race to the Top based on the plans they submitted. If any state significantly changes the plan, it will be putting all Race to the Top funding in jeopardy."

The representative did not comment on any state in particular. The Department has said they will monitor winning RTTT states' compliance with their proposals.

In Maryland, a legislative committee voted last week to reject a new regulation requiring that half of teachers' evaluations be based on student progress. When Maryland applied for RTTT funds, their proposal promised that student progress would account for 50 percent of evaluations, but the legislative committee voted for 35 percent, going against Governor Martin O'Malley's education reform plan.

This would seem to put Maryland's $250M RTTT funds in jeopardy, but U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said he is confident that Maryland will stick with its original proposal.

"This is not a time to slow down or take a step backwards. This is the time to keep moving forward, and this is my hope and anticipation that Maryland will do that," Duncan told a Baltimore television station.

While RTTT funding is not in jeopardy in other states as of yet, the chart below highlights changes in leadership after the gubernatorial elections and how those leadership changes may influence education reform efforts in RTTT states.

New Leadership in Race to the Top States

Delaware No governor’s election.
Florida Republican Rick Scott narrowly defeated Democrat Alex Sink. Scott is expected to support merit pay for teachers, increased numbers of charter schools, and other expanded school choice options.
Georgia Former Republican Congressman Nathan Deal won a close race against Democrat Roy Barnes. Deal has said he will review the state’s education funding formula for public schools and concentrate on preserving teacher positions. He also supports offering vocational education and greater flexibility for school systems.
Hawaii Former Congressman and Democrat Neal Abercrombie defeated Republican Duke Aiona. Abercombie plans to incorporate the Superintendent of Schools in the Governor’s cabinet to bring together all parties for reform.
Maryland The current Governor, Democrat Martin O’Malley, retained his seat.  A spokesperson for the governor says he is committed to making sure Maryland doesn’t lose its RTTT funding.
Massachusetts The current Governor, Democrat Deval Patrick, retained his seat. Deval signed an education reform bill this past January, and is focused on “innovation schools” to close the achievement gap.
New York Former Attorney General and Democrat Andrew Cuomo won. Cuomo plans to quickly tackle the state’s fiscal problems by cutting waste, especially in education funding.
North Carolina No governor’s election.
Ohio Republican John Kasich defeated incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland. Kasich has said he would like to do away with Ohio’s evidence-based funding plan and direct more money toward classrooms.
Rhode Island Former U.S. Senator and Independent Lincoln Chafee defeated both his Democratic and Republican opponents. Chafee has publicly spoken out against using RTTT money for charter schools, saying he would rather focus the money on “traditional” schools.
Tennessee Republican Bill Haslam won. Haslam has said wants to integrate education, including the traditional college experience as well as technical and high schools, with local businesses to create a “renewable marketplace built upon itself.”
Washington, D.C. Democrat Vincent Gray defeated incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty in the primary, and won the general election. Chancellor Michelle Rhee resigned after the election, and Kaya Henderson was named Interim Chancellor.


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