Federal Race to the Top Grant Announcement

The Race to the Top is a marathon, not a sprint.

Today, the Obama administration surprised many complacent education officials in Massachusetts and around the country by announcing it will award just two states—Delaware and Tennessee—with hundreds of millions in education grant dollars, the culmination of a hard-fought competition that originally drew applications from 40 states. The grants, the first of two rounds under the administration’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, are designed to reward states that are pushing ahead on tough teaching standards to overhaul lagging schools. In March, Massachusetts was named a finalist in the first round of applicants, along with 15 other states.

While this news could be considered disappointing, the High Tech Council and our partners did not work to overhaul the state’s education system solely to win a one-time federal grant. The reforms Massachusetts made earlier this year, if properly implemented on the state and local level, will have a long-term, meaningful benefit for students, teachers and our economy. Even without this one-time federal funding: 1) more Massachusetts students will have access to innovative and proven school models like charter schools; and 2) more struggling school districts will receive the tools and support to turn around failing schools.

That said, it is critical for the Patrick Administration and state education leaders to work with all stakeholders to evaluate why Massachusetts fell short and to put our best foot forward for the second round of Race to the Top applications this fall.