Race To The Bottom

As you’ve probably noticed by my posts this year, I’m not a fan of Arne Duncan. Obama’s Education Secretary has not only continued most of Bush’s education agenda, but he has upped the ante by using $4 billion in “Race to the Top” funds to force states to adopt unproven and right-wing methods of teacher assessment. Earlier this year California legislators dutifully pushed through part of Duncan’s shock doctrine reforms that would never have been approved under different conditions; the Assembly is currently debating other ways to bring CA into compliance with the funding requirements.

What’s most insane about this whole exercise is that California isn’t guaranteed any Race to the Top money at all – instead we have to compete for it:

States will be judged on a 500-point scale that will measure their plans to enact a variety of reforms, including implementing data systems, turning around low-performing schools and paying effective teachers and administrators more.

States now have 60 days to apply for federal funding, which puts more pressure on California Assembly members, who are currently in a special legislative session focused on education. The deadline to apply for the first round of federal dollars is in mid-January….

Education Department officials also issued an estimate, based on school-age population, of how much each state would receive if it were awarded a grant. Four large states, including California, could get $350 million to $700 million.

State officials had hoped California would be eligible for up to $1 billion.

So, just to be clear, Duncan is using the Race to the Top funds as bait to force all 50 states to adopt his crazy reforms designed to even further emphasize testing, link teacher pay and performance to those tests (regardless of the other qualifications and achievements of those teachers) – all without any guarantee that states will get a dime for their trouble.

California ought to call BS on Duncan’s Race to the Bottom. We should drop out of the contest for these funds, as they come at too high a cost – undermining our schools’ ability to properly teach our children for a shot at a small amount of one-time funds. It’s like taking the mortgage payment and buying lotto tickets with it.

Our schools are in serious trouble, thanks to $10 billion in unacceptable cuts made during the 2009 budget deals. Duncan’s bait money won’t make much of a dent in rehiring teachers or improving educational equality. Since the Obama Administration has gone AWOL on the education crisis, California is going to have to seize on public support for schools funding and resolve this problem on our own. We certainly should go no further in implementing Duncan’s reforms.

One thought on “Race To The Bottom”

  1. …this was all quite clear long, long ago. All part of ‘The Preciousness’s’ plan to out ReThug the ReThugs.

    Which he is no bidding fair to do.

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