The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and others report that Delaware and Tennessee are the winners of the first round of the Department of Education’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, which rewards states who demonstrate a commitment to education reform. More than 40 states applied for grants, and the Obama Administration had tapped 16 finalists. The Department of Education has yet to specify how much each state will receive; Delaware applied for $107 million in federal funds to overhaul its struggling schools, while Tennessee asked for some $500 million. The Post has more on the decision:
Leaders in both states pledged to establish national models for data-driven reform, tying teacher evaluation to student performance in an all-out effort to close achievement gaps.
Georgia, ranked third in the contest, and Florida, considered a favorite to win, fell just short of a threshold for awards that Duncan set himself. More than $3 billion remains in the fund, and they could win some in a future round.
Duncan’s decision to name only two initial winners gives the Obama administration continued leverage to upend the status quo in public education. It also squelches any suggestion that Duncan would seek to spread the money around as much and as fast as possible to help Obama win favor in key political states.