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Race to the Top at Stake in Lame Duck Session

Lawmakers will be waddling back to D.C. next week for a lame duck session. They still have to finish the fiscal 2011 appropriations bill that funds the Department of Education.

So the big question for a lot of folks in the eduworld is ... what happens to Race to the Top?

The administration asked for $1.35 billion to continue the program for an additional year, and Congress is poised to provide some of that (there's $800 million in the House version of the bill, and $675 million in the Senate). Money is tight, but a lot of folks argue that money is likely to stay in the bills if they are presidential priorities.

Still, I can see why the administration wanted Congress to put money into a recent stop-gap measure to fund Race to the Top and i3.

And of course, advocates for school districts and teachers note that there's another huge problem with just extending funding for another year: There won't be any additional money for Title I grants to districts to help educate disadvantaged kids, or for special education.

Another wrinkle: Some advocates are worried that, even if Congress passes a new K-12 budget, the new, much more conservative gaggle of House Republicans will move a "recissions" bill, which could target education increases in the fiscal 2011 budget for cuts. Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, who is expected to be the next Majority Leader, seems to think this is a good idea.

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