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Vermont forgoes education grant application

Susan Notes:

It's snowing outside, but there's sunshine in my heart.

DOE spokesman Justin Hamilton says, "Race to the Top gives all states, both urban and rural, a chance to dramatically improve the lives of children." If our corporate-politicos cared about 'improve the lives of children,' they'd make sure every family received a living wage. In the system they applaud (and support), the filthy rich get richer and the poor sink ever lower.

Justin Hamilton:
Deputy Press Secretary
U.S. Department of Education
May 2009 -- Present

Missouri Press Secretary, Obama for America
1 year 9 months

Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Rep George Miller
5 years 10 months.

--LinkedIn profile

by Lisa Rathke, Associated Press

April 27, 2010

MONTPELIER-- Vermont will not seek millions of dollars in a federal grant program aimed at improving failing schools, joining a few states in dropping out of the "Race to the Top" program despite strapped budgets.

The competitive grant requires states to link teacher pay to student performance and invest in charter schools, which would require policy and legislative changes in Vermont, Commissioner Armando Vilaseca said Monday.

After spending hundreds of hours reviewing the application and program, the state will not apply, Vilaseca said.

"When we look at it realistically, with limited resources we have to make sure we put our energies and our efforts into places that we know we can be successful in and that fit what the direction of Vermont education is moving in," Vilaseca said. "Vermont has a highly successful educational system, when you look at our NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) results, when you look at how our students do across the board, graduation rates, we are one of the leaders in the country. We still have room to improve, but this program doesn't move us in the direction where we feel we should be going in."

Vermont could have been eligible for $40 million, which would have amounted to about $500,000 per supervisory union over four years, if the state's grant had been successful, education officials said.

Vilaseca said the program is better suited to urban, under-performing schools, but the U.S. Department of Education disagreed.

"Race to the Top gives all states, both urban and rural, a chance to dramatically improve the lives of children. We hope every state applies and puts its best foot forward," spokesman Justin Hamilton said.

Tennessee and Delaware became the first states in March to win grants from the $4.35 billion Obama administration program aimed at improving student performance, with $500 million going to Tennessee and $100 million to Delaware.

Both states were praised for their merit pay policies for teachers based on student performance and charter school policies.

The Vermont chapter of the National Education Association teachers union, which last week criticized the department, saying teachers were excluded from seeking the grant, says it agrees with the decision of the commissioner and state Board of Education.

"Race to the Top" is another example of how federal education policy does not fit rural states like Vermont, with high performing schools, said John Nelson, of the Vermont School Boards Association.

— Lisa Rathke, Associated Press
Burlington Free Press



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