40 States Apply for Race to the Top Funds
By Tim Weldon, CSG Education Policy Analyst
The U.S. Department of Education announced Jan. 19 that 40 states and Washington, D.C., submitted applications to be considered for Phase I of the Race to the Top competition. Through Race to the Top, the federal government will award $4.35 billion to states to dramatically reshape America’s educational system. Winners of the first phase of Race to the Top will be announced in April.
A second round of applications from states will be due in June, with winners announced in September. States that didn’t win funding in the initial phase of applications can reapply in Phase II, as can those states that didn’t apply during Phase I.
Washington, D.C., and the following states applied for Race to the Top dollars: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida , Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. announced his desire for Race to the Top funding when the state submitted its application Jan. 19. “This proposal will accelerate our reforms of the last three years and give Colorado a blueprint for future reforms regardless of whether we secure a Race to the Top grant,” he said. “The collaborative approach—the involvement of hundreds of education stakeholders from across Colorado—again demonstrates our statewide commitment to improving student learning and helping good teachers become great teachers.”
Several states have enacted new legislation to strengthen their applications for the grants. Michigan was one of the states. Legislators there took the following actions during the 2009 legislative session, which were signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm:
Direct the Michigan Department of Education to establish a process for turning around the lowest performing 5 percent of all public schools;
Create a State School Reform/Redesign Officer in the Department of Education to oversee those schools;
Require children to attend school until they are 18;
Allow alternative certification of teachers; and
Allow high-quality charters to become Schools of Excellence that would allow for the opening of one new charter school for each School of Excellence.
When Race to the Top applications were due Jan. 19, President Obama announced his intention to propose in his 2011 fiscal year budget $1.35 billion to continue the Race to the Top program. He also announced his intention to expand the competition to include local school districts that are committed to education reform.