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Race to the Top expansion aimed at Texas?


AP Photo/Alex Brandon

President Obama’s federal education dollars appear to have found a way around the states opting out of the Race to the Top (RTTT) competition by allowing districts to apply directly for funding. In a press conference on January 19, President Obama announced an additional $1.3 billion for an expansion of RTTT to districts.

President Obama may have been referring to Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) when he explained the reason for the expansion of RTTT, “So innovative districts like the one in Texas whose reform efforts are being stymied by state decision-makers will soon have the chance to earn funding to help them pursue those reforms.” 

Governor Perry opted out of the RTTT competition on the grounds that the program will increase the federal government’s role in public education. He said at his press conference on January 13, 2010, “If Washington were truly concerned about funding education with solutions that match local challenges, they would make the money available to states with no strings attached.”

Last year, Perry declined to participate in the Common Core State Standards Initiative spearheaded by the National Governors Association because the Texas State Board of Education had already adopted the nation's first state standards to be tied to college-and-career ready curriculum standards for core subjects. Since a large part of the RTTT’s scoring is based on collaborating with other states on the college-and-career ready curriculum standards, the reasoning goes that Texas would be docked so many points in its RTTT application that Texas would not even be in the running for the prize money even if it had applied.

Governor Perry wrote Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education for the Obama Administration, enumerating his reasons for not participating in RTTT.  In addition to listing the federal strings attached and the fact that Texas had already developed the same type of standards required in RTTT, he also wrote of the expensive state outlay of money and the future possible unfunded mandate that would be left when the RTTT money stops:

Adopting national standards and tests would also require the purchase of new textbooks, assessments and professional development tools, costing Texas taxpayers an estimated $3 billion, on top of the billions of dollars Texas has already invested in developing our strong standards. In a state with 4.7 million students, this amounts to more than $635 per student, many times what Texas is eligible to receive under the U.S. Department of Education’s RTTT funding guidelines.

Locally, Dallas Morning News reported that Jon Dahlander, the Dallas ISD spokesman, said that the district would be “very interested” in participating in a district-level RTTT as long as there were not too many requirements.

For more info on the story:  See background on Race to the Top and commentary on Governor Perry's decision

For more on Bridgette: Subscribe to get her articles in your inbox or visit her Public Education Blog


  • Michael 5 years ago

    So Texas would get about $75 per student, but be required to spend up to an additional $635 per student. I love government math.

  • TP 5 years ago

    This country already spends the most on education than any other country. Why should anyone think spending more is going to make a change? Sounds like more of the same to me and I'm sure the same results.

  • LC 5 years ago

    I like how they cropped that picture of Obama so that you can't see the two teleprompters he had to use to speak to an elementary school class.

  • Jenfidel 5 years ago

    Dare I mention that we are paying local property taxes out the wazoo here in Dallas where 1/2 of those funds go to the local school district, yet they're still cozying up to the Feds for more...!
    When does this nightmare end?!

  • Bill 5 years ago

    I think it is really $75 per student over 4 years, which really would be $18.75/year/student. The school year in Texas contains about 180 days of school. That means this whole program is worth about 10 cents a day per student AND that is only if the state wouldn't have taken a cut.

  • Bridgette 5 years ago

    LC, you're right! I just saw the story about the teleprompters, I guess he needs to take those everywhere.

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