Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 3, Number 20
July 23, 2009
Stumbling into "Race to the Top"
Terry Ryan / July 23, 2009
With the first quarter of 2009 witnessing the sharpest decline in state tax receipts on record (see here), it comes as no surprise that many states are scrambling to win federal "Race to the Top" dollars. The four-plus billion dollars in extra cash comes from Secretary Arne Duncan's discretionary kitty--and he's been very clear about what kinds of behaviors deserve to be rewarded.
Duncan's most-publicized comments have centered around raising state charter caps, but the Obama administration and the stimulus legislation itself has four broader goals: 1) turning around low-performing schools (in part by expanding charter schools); 2) enacting rigorous (and preferably common) academic standards; 3) improving teacher quality and the equitable distribution thereof; and 4) beefing up state data systems. (We'll know more about the specifics tomorrow when the Race to the Top application is released.)
Some states, like Colorado, Florida, and Louisiana, seem to be sprinting toward their share of the money (see here). Others, like Ohio, are stumbling into the sweepstakes. Where is the Buckeye State falling short and where is it making the grade? Let's take a look:
Charter schools and turnarounds
Falling Short. In both his 2007 and 2009 state biennial budget proposals, Ohio's Democratic Governor Ted Strickland sought to set back Ohio's charter school program big time. In fact, his budget proposals would have largely dismantled the state's program by creating a moratorium on new schools and imposing myriad regulatory provisions on those that already