Florida's Race to the Top application and the so-called side deals that districts and unions are entering into on their own—outside of the official application—are raising some eyebrows among education policy wonks. It's really unclear just how problematic these side deals might be to the spirit of the Race to the Top competition in Florida, but they sure do raise a lot of questions. Eduwonk, Sherman Dorn, State EdWatch, The Washington Post's Answer Sheet, and this blog have all explored the ramifications of these side deals. Now, the U.S. Department of Education is weighing in late Friday...


My colleague Lesli Maxwell highlighted over at State EdWatch a disturbing trend in Florida, where some districts and their local teachers' unions are signing side deals that seem to fly in the face of the spirit of the Race to the Top competition. Intrepid St. Pete Times reporter Ron Matus first wrote about the issue here, and has since uncovered more side deals. UPDATE: Blogger Sherman Dorn writes this is much ado about nothing—that the MOUs districts signed and these side deals are really quite similar. Florida improved its round two application by getting 54 local unions on board...


K-12 education is likely to face the chopping block in fiscal year 2011 amid slack revenues, says a survey by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers.


Fewer states applied this time around for the $3.4 billion left in the Obama administration's signature education-reform competition. First-time applicants for the grants, which will be doled out late this summer, include Maryland, Nevada, and Washington.


As we wait for the official tally of entrants into round two of Race to the Top, join me at edweek.org for an online chat today at 3 p.m. Eastern featuring Steven Brill, who recently penned two pieces on Race to the Top and will take your questions. His main piece, in the New York Times Magazine, examined the overall effect Race to the Top is having on the country's education reform dynamic, particularly on the relationship policymakers have with teachers' unions. He wrote a companion piece for Edweek that delved into the wonkiness of the 500-point grading ...


Even though the $23 billion education jobs bill faltered yesterday in Congress, proponents aren't giving up on a measure which public school advocates say is desperately needed to forestall draconian teacher layoffs nationwide.


In late winter, researchers, wonks, and the general public will get their first look at new finance data collected by the U.S. Department of Education that seeks to account for differences in spending across schools within the same district. This is called comparability (until someone comes up with a catchier name!) and often exposes spending patterns that lead to fewer dollars being spent on low-income students because so much money is tied to teacher salaries—and the less-experienced teachers earning lower salaries tend to teach in schools with a lot of low-income kids. You would think that obtaining school-by-school...


The presidents of both national teachers' unions joined key lawmakers and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this morning on Capitol Hill to drum up support for the $23 billion edujobs legislation. Supporters of the bill say up to 300,000 jobs may be riding on congressional action. Rep. David Obey, D-Wisc., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said he plans to introduce a version of the measure as an amendment to the must-pass emergency spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that his panel is considering tomorrow. The original plan was for the Senate to ...


The wrangling over that $23 billion edujobs bill continues. Originally, the Senate sponsor of the measure, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees education spending, had planned to offer the legislation as an amendment to the war supplemental spending bill that the Senate is expected to consider soon. That strategy made sense because a) the war supplemental is a must-pass bill, and b) it's emergency spending, so the $23 billion wouldn't need to be offset. But Harkin changed his game plan once he realized that he couldn't get the 60 votes needed to pass the provision. ...


Andy Smarick, the Fordham Fellow who perhaps knows as much about the Race to the Top competition as the folks at the U.S. Department of Education, will have to leave his wonky federal analysis, insights, and general blogginess behind when he takes on a new job as deputy education commissioner in New Jersey. He'll work as the lone deputy under Commissioner Bret Schundler, who was a controversial pick for newly elected Republican Gov. Christopher Christie. Smarick officially starts his new role sometime this summer, probably in early August (although if New Jersey were wise, it would tap his expertise ...


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