The Chariots of Fire theme song
echoed across the plains on Tuesday as states submitted their Race to
the Top applications. But not everyone is drawn to the bait of federal
dollars when it contains reform hooks. Several states have opted out
all together, at least in round one. Texas Governor Rick Perry barred
the Lone Star State from participating, saying the competition was a
violation of states’ rights. Other states applied despite obstinate
interest groups. Teachers’ union affiliates in many places (like New Jersey)
opposed their state’s applications while many districts preemptively
declined to take proffered funds if their host states win. In its
scoring system, however, RTT counts buy-in from the various affected
parties, but it remains to be seen how states with otherwise-strong
applications but recalcitrant unions or districts will fare in the
competition. The opposition is largely ideological, though some states
like Montana worry that Secretary Duncan’s push towards charter schools
is inappropriate for their rural demographics. Still, with 40 states
plus the District of Columbia willing to jump through RTT’s hoops,
Nevada’s schools superintendent is probably right when he told the Times, “When you’re starving and somebody puts food in your mouth, it’s amazing what states will do.”

"Education Grant Effort Faces Late Opposition," by Sam Dillon, New York Times,January 18, 2010

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