Updates on the Race: 12-16-2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Is Race to Top an Urban Game? (Education Week Politics K-12 Blog)
Some state officials have a sneaking suspicion that Race to the Top is an urban state's game and that has made some question whether they should apply, at least in Round 1. For instance, Vermont had originally planned to apply for Round 1 of the competition, but is now going to hold off for Round 2.... The state decided to sit out the first round because of the competition's rules on charter schools. Vermont, a largely rural state, doesn't have them, but it does have some other innovative public schools, Knopf said. But, under the RttT regulations, the state can only get up to eight points for its innovative schools, out of a possible 40, since it doesn't have a charter school law.

In North Dakota, state education superintendent Wayne Sanstead told Michele that it can't move quickly enough to make the Jan. 19 deadline for Round 1. Still, when the state applies in Round 2, it will develop a North Dakota-kind-of-plan, he said, which will probably be a lot different than other states' plans because of the rural nature of his state.
Jockeying for Race's Post Position (Eduflack)
Of the 15 states receiving significant help from the Gates Foundation to prepare their applications, 13 are planning on Phase One apps. Not surprisingly, Texas is not on the early intent list (as the Republic of Texas is likely trying to figure out how to make up points for the big dings it will take over its resistance to common core standards. Surprisingly, North Carolina has NOT indicated its intent to submit in Phase One, despite the Tar Heel State's reputation for being a true leader in education reforms over the past three decades.

While the official RttT scoring makes clear that past accomplishments are worth more points than plans for the future, we see a number of states that have made major changes in recent months (firewalls, charter caps, etc.) just to be compliant with Race requirements. States like California, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, and Wisconsin will have to demonstrate — in just a few short weeks — that recent legislative action is the culmination of a commitment to school improvement, and not simply fast action to win some quick money.

And who is missing from the list, besides North Carolina? Rhode Island is not there, probably indicating that State Supe Deborah Gist is working to do it right (with regard to detailing her aggressive reform agenda in a few hundred pages of prose). But otherwise, the early app list reads like a list of those most likely to win and those most hopeful to win a major prize.