Friday, December 23, 2011

Duncan Tosses Kentucky a Bone

7 Runners-Up Finally Share (a Much Smaller) Race to Top Prize

Unfunded by the State
Holliday Gets a Pittance Toward SB 1 Implementation 
from the Feds

Kentucky has been positioning itself as the nation's first and foremost supporter of "school reform." Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has stood with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to tout the Obama administration's approach to education. But while Kentucky was the first to sign up for national standards (and the national testing that will follow), the federal government has done little to return the love. Some KSN&C readers wonder if the toxic relationship between Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and the White House has cost the state the recognition it deserved, and might have otherwise received. Others wonder if Kentucky's application was really all the department of education would have us believe. Still others wonder if Senate Bill 1 and the whole Race to the Top thing is even a good idea and worth the effort. Go figure.

This from Politics K-12:
Seven states that were runners-up in last year's $4 billion Race to the Top competition will share a $200 million consolation prize that will fund small pieces of their original plans, with many choosing to focus on implementing common standards and improving teacher evaluation systems.

The seven winners are: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Their grants range in size, based on each state's student population, from $17 million for Colorado, Kentucky, and Louisiana to nearly $43 million for Illinois.

"These states are absolutely ready to do great things," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a conference call with reporters yesterday evening.

The announcement comes as the U.S. Department of Education has begun to raise the pressure on the 12 winners of last year's competition...

The announcement of the latest, $200 million in awards was surrounded by little suspense. The department made all nine runners-up from last year eligible to win this time around so long as they agreed to stick to the reform agenda they pitched last year, and demonstrated how the piece of their plan that they chose to highlight also benefited the STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math, subjects...

With just $200 million to be split this time around—far less than the $4 billion up for grabs last year—the fact that two states did not participate bumped up everyone else's prize.

The department has now awarded all of its fiscal 2011 Race to the Top money, and can turn to figuring out what to do with the nearly $550 million Congress set aside to extend the brand during fiscal 2012. Duncan has said no decisions have been made on how that money will be awarded. However, during last night's call, he made clear that he does want to use at least some of the money for districts, saying that Congress' decision to open up Race to the Top to the local level was a "great opportunity." He also said the money is an opportunity to focus more on early learning and STEM...
And this KDE press release:

Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Kentucky will receive a Race to the Top grant of $17 million to advance targeted K-12 reforms aimed at improving student achievement.

Kentucky and six other states -- Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania -- will each receive a share of the $200 million in Race to the Top Round 3 (RTT3) fund.

“While the grant amount is significantly less than the original $175 million request, we are very excited about being able to gain funds to implement Senate Bill 1 initiatives and expand AdvanceKentucky sites,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Within the budget of $17 million, we will use state and district allocations to implement professional development and resources for Senate Bill 1.”

Senate Bill 1, passed in the 2009 session of the General Assembly, calls for a new assessment and accountability system for the state’s public schools, along with more rigorous academic standards, intensive teacher and administrator training, and strengthened collaboration among higher education, teacher/administrator certification and P-12 education sectors.

AdvanceKentucky is a statewide math-science initiative and partnership between Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC) and the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). AdvanceKentucky expands access to, preparation for and participation in academically rigorous coursework, specifically the Advanced Placement (AP) Program.

As runners-up in the last year’s Race to the Top competitions, Kentucky and eight other states were eligible for Round Three awards to invest in a portion of their Round Two plans. However, South Carolina opted out, and California submitted an incomplete application.

RTT3 focuses on supporting efforts to leverage comprehensive statewide reform, while also improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.


Anonymous said...

I think that it is more than a bit silly to think that President Obama and his staff would punish Kentucky because of Senator Mitch McConnell. While McConnell is anti-Obama and, I think eveidence suggests, anti-working class, it is dangerous to even suggest something this absurd. Punish a whole state because the two senators are Republicans who think Obama is an idiot? Hello, conspiracy theory!

I do think we are not getting a share of "Race to the Top" funds because, from my experience in Fayette County Public Schools, nobody seems to know how to teach the new standards. Certainly there are people in Washington who are aware that the standards were taught by having teachers read out of a manual and listen lecture-style to what the standards are supposed to be.

I also think our chances would be better if our education commissioner had a more dynamic personality and a proven track record ---with publications--- as an education reformer.

Anonymous said...

So what kind of difference should we expect from this sort of allocation of 17 million?

$13,788 per school (Wouldn't even fund a half time teacher)


$386 per teacher (Wouldn't pay for a teacher to attend one of those highly valuable vendor provided inservices about end of course exams or common core alignment - they run about $500)


$26.36 per student (Wouldn't pay of one textbook for a kid which our state no longer funds)

Not sure why I even went to the trouble to break this down as most of it will just become grease to move ahead KDE initiatives and result in more work and demoralizing work conditions for teachers. Come on 1/10 of the original request is suppose to make a substaintial dent in the proposal which required $175 million to implement? As usual, an expectation for 100% change with only 10% investment.

Anonymous said...

Wow, hate to think that our state's chances for federal funding might depend upon our the degree of our commissioners dynamic personality. THat sort of sounds like something you might say about a politician's popularity.

Richard Day said...

December 24, 2011 5:09 PM: More than a bit silly? You must be watching a different Congress than I am.

December 28, 2011 11:04 PM: Thanks for doing some homework for us. However much it is needs to go to teacher training.

In Washington, Education Commissioners are a bit low on the food chain.

Anonymous said...

Dear Richard,

I am following the thread. So you do believe the Obama admionistration is punishing Kentucky because we are led by Republicans in the Senate? I was unclear from your cryptic stement.

Richard Day said...

December 31, 2011 7:50 AM: Not necessarily. I hope not, but I don't really know. One of our readers suggested the possibility and I've heard it pondered aloud by a few more folks.

What I disagree with is the suggestion that such an occurrence would never happen. The idea that our leaders are above such petty political considerations simply runs counter to my observations.

Anonymous said...

Unfortuately, teachers are getting the same response as doctors whose patients see a 20/20 segment on their health condition or a commercial promising immediate relief to their illness. Many folks who have never taught or even know anything about instructing a child are creating mandates and operational parameters based on personal agendas, vendor hyped products and public opinion. I am not saying teachers have all the answers, but when I go in for my surgery, I am not going to try to tell the physician what instrument use or how to best to perform the proceedure.