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Guest Blogger

Race to the Top finalists are starting to make their presentations today. As a service to the U.S. Department of Education, Flypaper reader Ron Tomalis suggests these ten questions that might be asked of each state delegation. Tomalis was an Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education in the first term of the George W. Bush Administration, and now serves as a director at Dutko Worldwide.

1.???????????? If you don't get 100% of the funding requested, how will you modify your proposals???What programs are on the chopping block; which aspects will receive priority funding?

2.???????????? How will you hold your school districts accountable for full implementation? What penalties will you have for lack of implementation at the local level? How will you police implementation??? Do you have metrics in place to constantly monitor both implementation and outcomes?

3.???????????? The Federal Government could make an investment of several hundred million dollars in your state. Specifically, for that amount of money, how far will the academic needle move in 3 years? 5 years?

4.???????????? Reform initiatives have come and gone, with limited amount of success. What makes your plan under this application different??? And more importantly, how is it different than things your state has done over the last decade??? Are you asking for funding for drastically different initiatives?

5.???????????? Will private school students benefit from RttT funding? If so, how? If not, why not?

6.???????????? Every state education system??has strengths and weaknesses, just as??every state plan has strengths and weaknesses. What are??the strongest parts of your plan and what are your weakest based upon??your state's historic capacity to implement reform?

7.???????????? If these initiatives/programs are so critical for student success in??your state, why haven't you done them already? Why wasn't there a political/policy??effort to accomplish these programs before RttT? If the new??RttT money was the driver, doesn't that undercut your claim that these reforms have broad based support?

8.???????????? If you don't get funded, how will this impact your reform efforts? What will you do regardless of RttT funding and what are you doing only because of RttT funding?

9.???????????? The state legislature was not required to sign your application, nor are they here today presenting with you. Much of what you are proposing will either require changes in law or legislative endorsement/funding to back up the initiative. What indications can you give us that your legislature endorses these initiatives? What provisions in your plan can you implement on day one? What provisions require new laws and policies? In how many cases did you say that you would ???investigate, plan, or discuss??? an issue instead of execute an initiative?

10.?????????? For those??schools districts that did not sign onto your plan, how??will you ensure that you won't be setting up a dual education system in the state -- one aligned to the plan in the RttT application and??one for those not committed to the RttT? Does this worry you?

--Ron Tomalis

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