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New York Schools Chief Plugs Urgency of Race to Top Aid

empirestate.jpgNew York was one of the last states to release the full contents of its Race to the Top application (it appears that South Dakota and Hawaii are still holding out), with leaders there arguing that they didn't want to give away proprietary ideas.

They relented late last week, and I'm just starting to plow through the application. Of course, the conventional wisdom is that the state won't be a strong contender, at least in Round One, because of the legislative brawl that kept lawmakers from raising the statewide cap on charter schools.

In the meantime, though, David Steiner, the education commissioner in New York, has an op-ed in the Buffalo News that promotes, sort of, the Empire State's application. I say sort of because Mr. Steiner doesn't make much of a case for the state to win a piece of the $4 billion RTT grant based on the merits of its application. He uses verbs like "propose," "supports," and "endorsed" to describe several of the reformy nuggets in the application, a hint perhaps, that there may not be a whole lot of guaranteed concrete action should the state prevail in the competition.

Mr. Steiner makes a point of emphasizing the need for RTT funds because of the threat of deep spending cuts to K-12 education:

"With schools across New York facing the prospect of a $1 billion reduction in state aid, we cannot pass up the opportunity to secure $700 million to help deliver a high quality education."

To me, that sounds more like a plea for RTT dollars to help plug budget holes, not to deliver the sort of "dramatic" changes that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said, time and again, that he is looking for.

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