Them's Fightin' Words
Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott surely has not won his state any bonus points in the Race to the Top competition.
He's charging that the Obama Administration's efforts to support the state-led creation of common standards is nothing more than a desire for a "federal takeover" of public schools. In a letter that's definitely worth reading, Scott invokes words and phrases such as "Ronald Reagan once said," "national curriculum," and "sovereign authority."
Matter of fact, he says, linking a state's participation in the common standards effort to the Race to the Top amounts to "coercion." In a press release issued by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, Scott argued that the standards movement isn't really a state-led effort at all: "States are being misled."
(Course, tell that to the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State Schools Officers, which started this effort before Obama was sworn in as president.)
Read more about the standards part of this squabble over at Curriculum Matters.
Gov. Perry, for his part, is instructing Scott (as if there was any doubt) not to participate in the NGA-CCSSO effort. He said, in the release, "As the federal government continues its sweeping expansion of federal authority from the financial, energy and health care systems, it is now attempting to increase their intrusion into Texas classrooms."
Despite all of this, Texas still thinks it has a good shot at winning the Race to the Top money. (Not joining the common standards effort will cost Texas 8 percent of the total points possible, leaving them behind other states at the start.)
The other states out there have got to be secretly (or maybe not-so-secretly) happy if Texas starts out at a disadvantage. According to the budget estimates for Race to the Top, Texas would stand to get the largest chunk, between $350 million and $700 million. If Texas doesn't win, there's that much more money to go around.