The evidentiary standards for i3 have stirred much conversation. On those standards, I've mixed feelings. On the one hand, the i3 criteria have healthfully prompted would-be applicants to think much more seriously about evaluation than has been the norm. Just in the past few weeks, I've heard from a number of outfits that have suddenly gotten religion on this question. This has the potential to weed out so many of the cruddy fly-by-night operators in the space and to foster a culture of performance. At the same time, if foundations wind up mimicking federal decisions, standards of evidence could become ...


I've been hard on Secretary Duncan and the administration, especially on the subject of Race to the Top (RTT). No two ways about it. This has prompted some in the administration to ask whether I'm just a reflexive contrarian. I don't intend to be. As I've said before, I like and respect many in the administration, count many as friends, and think they've been trying to push in the right direction. That I've been semi-scathing is in no small part a reaction to how ED has communicated its efforts and the coverage they've received. There's not much that ED can ...


It's good that the Department of Education held the line in naming just two round one Race to the Top (RTT) winners. After the dismal decision to name 16 finalists, this was an important corrective (even if I've doubts about the signal sent by the two winners that emerged). Perhaps going from 16 to two was the plan all along, or perhaps public reaction usefully stiffened ED's spine. Either way, the outcome was better than I had feared. I've conflicting reactions to the round one result. Not only do I think RTT is a good idea in principle, but I ...


Who would've thought it? If you'd told me a week ago that Secretary Duncan would've named just two Race to the Top (RTT) round one winners, I would have thought it a triumph and a really important marker. Now, less than 24 hours later, I can't help but view the announcement as an enormous disappointment. Secretary Duncan yesterday set the unfortunate precedent that nothing matters for RTT applicants so much as the ability to beg, wheedle, and cajole lots of signatures of support from school boards, superintendents, and union locals. States like Florida and Louisiana, which had bold and action-packed ...


Perhaps they should have called it the "Race to Consensus" or the "Race to Stakeholder Buy-In." Upon hearing there were only two round one Race to the Top (RTT) winners, I thought Duncan deserved some credit for recovering his footing after the fiasco of naming 16 round one finalists. Then, when I heard the two were Delaware and Tennessee, I had second thoughts. And they brought to mind my observation from a few months back (and restated this morning) that the numerical marker was a terrific tool for Duncan. All he had to do to get laurels was limit the ...


Like the Energizer Bunny, our earnest Secretary of Education just keeps going. The Race to the Top (RTT) winners are slated to be announced this afternoon, and a rumor from a reliable source has it that there will be just three winners. That would be good news. Given his unfortunate penchant for talking bigger than he delivers, and all the ink already spilled on RTT, you'd think Duncan might let the results speak for themselves. After all, just about everybody--other than his flacks, love-struck media types, and state officials eager to curry favor--thought his decision to name 16 round one ...


Yesterday, I offered three thoughts that had struck me regarding Race to the Top (RTT) as I flit around the country talking about my new book, Education Unbound. For what it's worth, here are a few more thoughts. I'm increasingly convinced that the energy devoted to RTT has focused state reform communities on dreaming up plans that demand more resources and new investments. Even in the most far-sighted locales (and perhaps especially in these) one result has been a massive distraction from asking how to use the bleak budgetary environment that looms into the middle of the next decade as ...


Andy Smarick's dazzling new "AEI Education Stimulus Watch," bringing readers up to speed on all things edu-stimulus, is out today. It provides a vivid look at the Race to the Top (RTT) landscape; in particular, combining Andy's principled enthusiasm for RTT with his careful attention to how the program is playing out. Readers will find especially useful his attention to the challenges of program design, ED execution, and political gamesmanship. (Full disclosure: As the report's title implies, it is written for and published by my AEI Education shop). I found Andy's piece especially thought-provoking, as I've been on the road ...


I am among those (including, apparently, Rep. David Obey) warning that failure to sensibly insulate Race to the Top (RTT) from political officials and pressure poses risks to the credibility and sustainability of the centerpiece of the Obama administration's ed reform agenda. Now, in a development ripe with irony, Chicago Breaking News has raised a ruckus in Chicago with its report that then-Superintendent Arne Duncan's staff kept a list of politicians' school requests. The report has raised concerns about political favoritism and lack of transparency. Chicago Breaking News reports: "While many Chicago parents took formal routes to land their children ...


I eased up on Race to the Top (RTT) a bit last week, but the aftermath of Nancy Pelosi's weekend healthcare porkfest has resurfaced all of the concerns I have previously raised (such as here and here) about the failure to concretize criteria for evaluation and review or to adequately insulate the judging and awarding from political appointees. As Terry Ryan points out, emerging specifics about all the healthcare dealing that the administration did last week raise unnecessary and unfortunate questions about whether some of the $4.35 billion in taxpayer funds devoted to RTT may have helped buy votes ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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