This afternoon, Sec. Duncan announced the winners of RTTT-D. The results are quite surprising.* Though the official announcement is noticeably devoid of both specifics and overarching themes, four things jump out immediately.
While some of the nation’s largest urban districts made the 61-member finalist list, virtually none of them won.
The first is that while some of the nation’s largest urban districts made the 61-member finalist list, virtually none of them won: Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Nashville, New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, and St. Louis all came up short. (Miami is the lone representative of big-city school systems.)
This is a bit puzzling because large districts generally fare well in these grant competitions. They have more central-office staff to task with grant-writing, they can more easily raise private funds, and so on.
It is conspicuous that they got boxed out.
Some might argue that, assuming scale is among our considerations, their exclusion from the winner’s circle is lamentable. They serve many students, so the types of changes envisioned by this grant would have touched more kids had these big urbans won.
The counter argument, of course, is that city districts get plenty of money and attention as is, so no one should cry them a river for losing. Moreover, if the lessons of these grants are ultimately disseminated widely and adopted elsewhere, the same kind of scale can be accomplished, though over a longer period of time.
Smaller districts, consortia, and charters did quite well.
The second thought...