Educators resent process of 'Race to the Top'

School buses in Fairfax County, Va.

by Nancy Marshall Genzer

Educators have scrambled to meet today's deadline for the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" educational fund, but many teachers have become resentful of the program, which pits states against each other in competition.

Forty-one states applied in the first round of the competition, with only two receiving funds. Some states that went to trouble to apply and didn't get money have decided not to compete in the second round. States are judged on their plans for turning around failing schools and using test scores to evaluate teachers.

For the competition to be successful, states had to win over teachers, who felt they were being thrown under the school bus, and state lawmakers had to sign off on ambitious reform plans.

Jack Jennings, who directs the Center on Education Policy, says the process was a battle. "They just don't have the stomach to go through a battle in their legislatures a second time."

Jennings says the education department should loosen up the strict scoring system it developed for Race to the Top. But Joanne Weiss, the director of the program, disagrees. "It is not called race to the middle," she says, "it is called race to the top for a reason."

Winners of this second round of the Race to the Top competition will be announced in the fall.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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