January 14, 2010

Race to the Top

It's been all over the radio, this little business of $4.35 billion being made available to school systems that jump through certain hoops.  This is just our own money, of course, the Federal government just has a bigger stick to take it from us, or print it as they see fit.  But when over 90% of Indiana Schools decide to jump through the same hoop, I have to wonder if anyone, anywhere is considering anything more than just having more green to lay down.  I think that Indiana is trying to get around $400 million and that amount is based somehow on the percentage of schools in Indiana that participate.

There appear to be three reforms school systems have to shoot for in order to get Race to the Top money from the Feds.
  1. Tie teacher evaluations to student achievement
  2. Distribute the best teachers identified above equally among wealthy and poor school districts
  3. Shake up any school district with failing school
I suspect the good side of this is that it gives Indiana a reason to push teacher evaluation changes through the unions.  The bad side, of course, is that anytime we take money from the Federal government, we sign on the dotted line of unspecified and ever-changing obligations to be determined in Washington D.C.  Everyone was all upset that Nebraska took a bribe to sign on to the Health Care bill.  How is this any different?  Indiana -- actually almost every state in the union -- is rolling over for under $100 per student and letting Washington decide how we should run our schools.  The obligations and changes we're signing up for are permanent, but this money dump is a one time "race to the top."

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