Race for Cash

By AMANDA VENDER

A contest between states is underway to see which ones will win $4.35 billion from the federal government to be spent on education. The contest is called Race to the Top. Some states are winning money, and others aren’t getting any. The program states that its goal is to “reward States that have demonstrated success in raising student achievement and have the best plans to accelerate [speed up] their reforms in the future.” In order to win some money for their schools, states have to prepare an application and show that they are making certain changes.

These changes include:
• paying teachers more if their students do well on standardized tests
• making the school day and school year longer
• more standardized tests, and teachers teaching students how to do well on those tests
• shutting down “poor performing” schools and opening more charter schools

Many teachers and parents are unhappy about the Race to the Top Program and think these changes do not make better schools. “With Race to the Top, no-one really wins. Not the winners, and certainly not the many many losers,” says Bree Picower, professor of education at Montclair State University. “I think the best way to improve education in the United States is to listen to students, families and teachers about what they think is the best way to be educated.”

For more on education and the debate over charter schools, see the upcoming November 2010 IndyKids.

Race to the Top
IMAGE: Lisa Goodman