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NCLB Outrages

Education Coalition Protests Race to Top Reform Effort

Coalition says competition for grants leads to failure to serve economically poorest students.

Although they are right, it would have been more high minded of this group to protest before they found out they'd lost out on the money pot.


By Grace E. Merritt

A coalition of Connecticut education leaders is protesting the Obama
administration's practice of making states or school systems compete for
federal education grants, saying it's a subjective way to distribute
money and fails to serve the state's poorest students.

The Connecticut Coalition for Public Education sent a letter to Obama
and Connecticut's congressional delegation this week objecting to the
U.S. Department of Education's policy of using competitive grants as a
way to foster innovation and change.

The coalition, which represents associations of teachers, school
administrators, boards of education and parent-teacher groups, said the
policy lacks the objectivity and transparency of state allocations that
are based on student need. The implications for additional reforms from
Washington are "frightening," the letter said.

The letter was sent shortly after the state found out it had failed for
the second time to win as much as $175 million in the federal Race to
the Top school reform competition.

It also supports a similar letter sent earlier this month from state
Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan, who said the Race to the Top
competition makes "winners and losers an acceptable strategy of solving
the problems of poor children."

Both McQuillan and the coalition are concerned about the education
department's plan to replace the No Child Left Behind program with a new
"Blueprint" proposal that would promote competition and could change the
way money is distributed to poor school districts, said Robert Rader,
executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education
and one of the letter-signers.

"We certainly don't want it to look like sour grapes because we didn't
win Race to the Top," Rader said.

"On the other hand, we don't believe it is in the interest of children,
especially those in poverty, for money to be given out in competitive
grants. We want to make sure that all children have the best possible
opportunity for a quality public education and we don't believe
competitive grants is the way to dole out this critical funding."


— Grace E. Merritt
Hartford Courant
2010-08-30
http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-education-coalition-0830-20100830,0,2755921.story


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