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Friday Reading List: The All Race to the Top Edition

The most talked about, written about, and speculated about part of the stimulus, the $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund, is getting top billing across the edu-blogsphere today.

The coverage comes in advance of a big rollout of the application process for the grants, which are meant to reward states that make progress on particular areas of school reform, at the U.S. Department of Education today. (Politics K-12's own Michele McNeil will be there. And oh yeah, also President Barack Obama).

After you're done reading Michele's excellent story on the applications, check out these good reads:

Over at Flypaper, Mike Petrilli, a former Bush administration official, has a great post, explaining why the application process embraces a Washington to the Rescue Approach. Bonus: It's accompanied by a picture of a horse with a carrot up its nose (yes, he somehow ties that back to ed policy).

At Gotham Schools, Elizabeth Green explores New York's chances of getting a piece of the RTT pie, given that it has a data firewall (which takes states out of the running, according to the guidance). And at Eduwonk, former Clintonite Andy Rotherham has a good overall analysis and even suggests some states to watch. And at Swift & Changeable, Charlie Barone has a very cool chart, showing why this is a big chunk of change, even compared with some of the foundations' largess.

And check out USA Today, the Washington Post (which also features an interview with Obama), the Associated Press, and The New York Times.

Finally, over at This Week in Education, edu-media critic Alexander Russo gives his take on all the coverage.

UPDATE: Duncan continued his full-court press this morning, holding a call with regional reporters about the Race to the Top program. Not surprisingly, most of the questions boiled down to "Will my state be eligible?"

For instance, reporters from New York and Wisconsin asked whether states would have enough time to remove their data "firewalls" and to be able to qualify. Duncan said the grants would be doled out in two rounds, extending the time frame a bit. And a Nebraska reporter asked whether states with a lot of rural schools would be able to qualify for the grants. In much of the department's rhetoric, there's been a focus on urban schools. Duncan said there would be an emphasis on rewarding good teachers for being willing to teach in hard-to-staff schools, which are in both urban and rural areas.

My colleague, Steve Sawchuk, managed to sneak in a substantive question about whether it's essential for teachers' unions to sign off on applications. He'll have Duncan's answer later today at Teacher Beat.

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