Students raise their hands in class
Students raise their hands in class - 
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Steve Chiotakis: President Obama today is expected to announce more than $1.3 billion in education funds up for grabs for schools and nonprofits. Competing for dollars seems to be the new trend
for educators, as Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports.

Jennifer Collins: Eighth grader Ashley Ramos is using a robot to finish an algebra problem.

Ashley Ramos: It's not working right now, so we're having difficulties.

This robotics program is helping bring up test scores at Eliot Middle School in Southern California. And it's the kind of program that could benefit from the new federal grants the president's announcing today.

Education expert Michael Kirst says schools will do everything they can to get this funding:

Michael Kirst: Because of the recession, people just feel they have to compete for any new money that's out there.

States are already competing in the administration's Race to the Top program. In fact, the deadline's today. That program has states battling against each other to show they have the highest-performing students and are the most committed to reform.

Arun Ramanathan is the executive director of the policy group Education Trust West:

Arun Ramanathan: I think it's remarkable the types of changes that you've seen in a very short period of time.

States have passed laws that open the door for more charter schools and link student performance to teacher evaluations. The Obama administration says it hopes to keep up that reform with the latest funding. And at Eliot Middle School, the hope is it'll keep their robots running just a little bit longer...

Robot: Whhhrrrrzzzzz.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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