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NEA Praises Rural Focus for Future 'Race to the Top' Aid

The National Education Association put out a press release over the weekend praising the Obama administration for proposing in its fiscal 2012 budget proposal to target rural school districts with any future Race to the Top funding.

Given that just seven months ago, the organization took a position of "no confidence" in the Race to the Top program, this does come as something of a surprise.

"NEA supports the plan to limit Race to the Top to school districts," NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said in thestatement. "We commend the Administration's further refinement of this program, as long as it requires local collaboration, best practices that boost student learning, more flexibility for turnaround models without minimizing the need for results, and as long as it does not reduce the basic funding for children in poverty."

The key words here are in the second sentence: local collaboration, best practices, more flexibility. Absent those things it's hard to see why the NEA would support the program, given Race to the Top's priorities of supporting things like charter schools and the use of test scores as part of a teacher-evaluation measure—all things NEA policy eschews.

Perhaps the NEA is also banking on the fact that the Race to the Top doesn't look likely to get any additional funding for the time being.

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