The information in the following essay is so jaw dropping that I had to take a break and read it, again. In an attempt to brag on the complexity and cleverness of the Race To The Top program, former Director of RTTT, Joanne Weiss, details how the program came to be. From start to finish, it is a twisted plan to coerce states into accepting billions of dollars to effect education reform across the board. I have provided a link below to the essay which was published on Sept. 10, 2015. It is ironic that on the day that I read this, a judge has rule against Gov. Jindal’s lawsuit claiming coercion. I fear that once this info is out, there will be backlash, and the article will be removed, so I took the liberty of downloading it as a pdf, and you may download it by Clicking Here.
Below, I have included a few quotes of interest from the essay.
“At the outset, we did not know whether the Race to the Top initiative would be compelling to state officials. The competition took place during a time of profound budgetary challenge for state governments, so the large pot of funding that we had to offer was a significant inducement for states to compete.”
“In the end, 46 states as well as the District of Columbia applied for Race to the Top support. A big factor in driving that high participation rate, I believe, was our decision to leverage the spirit of competition. We maximized the competitive nature of the program in three ways.
First, we decided that winners would have to clear a very high bar, that they would be few in number, and that they would receive large grants. (In most cases, the grants were for hundreds of millions of dollars.) In a more typical federal competition program, a large number of states would each win a share of the available funding. The government, in other words, would spread that money around in a politically astute way. But because our goal was to enable meaningful educational improvement, we adopted an approach that channeled substantial funding to the worthiest applicants.
Second, we kept politics out of the selection process. The secretary received numerous calls and letters from politicians who requested some form of special consideration for their states. In each case, the message from the secretary’s office was the same: “We’ll see what the expert reviewers say. The best plans will win.” In keeping with that commitment, we set up a peer-review process that relied on a panel of independent education experts. After the panel had scored each state’s application, we arranged all of the submitted plans by score in a state-blind way. We then funded the highest-scoring states.
Third, we placed governors at the center of the application process. In doing so, we empowered a group of stakeholders who have a highly competitive spirit and invited them to use their political capital to drive change. We drew governors to the competition by offering them a well-funded vehicle for altering the life trajectories of children in their states.”
“Some critics claimed that Race to the Top gave unions veto power over state plans and that placing a premium on multi-stakeholder collaboration watered down reform efforts. Others argued that teachers had little or no voice in the program. These conflicting criticisms marked the line that we needed to navigate in designing the competition. To help each state bring all parties to the reform table, we deployed four tools.
First, we forced alignment among the top three education leaders in each participating state—the governor, the chief state school officer, and the president of the state board of education—by requiring each of them to sign their state’s Race to the Top application. In doing so, they attested that their office fully supported the state’s reform proposal.
Second, we requested (but did not require) the inclusion of signatures by three district officials—the superintendent, the school board president, and the leader of the relevant teachers’ union or teachers’ association—on each district-level MOU. This approach, among other benefits, gave unions standing in the application process without giving them veto power over it.
Third, we created tangible incentives for states to gain a wide base of community support for their plans. Securing buy-in from multiple stakeholders—business groups, parents’ groups, community organizations, and foundations, for example—earned points for a state’s application. Having the support of a state’s teachers’ union earned additional points.
Fourth, as part of the judging process, we required officials from each state that reached the finalist stage to meet in-person with reviewers to present their proposals and answer reviewers’ questions. At this meeting, a team that often included the state’s governor—as well as union leaders, district officials, and the state’s education chief—made its case to reviewers. We imposed this requirement largely to verify that those in charge of implementing their state’s plan were knowledgeable about the plan and fully committed to it. (This was particularly critical in cases where states had used consultants to help draft their application.”
I hope I have provided enough quotes to get you mad. The RTTT program is directly responsible for the current condition of our education system. If we are going to make it right, we have to start by replacing the members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Visit FlipBESE to learn how you can help.