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Bureau of Indian Education Schools Want In On Race to the Top

By Alyson Klein — January 21, 2010 1 min read

Bureau of Indian Education schools, which are run by the U.S. Department of the Interior, would automatically get a slice of the highly coveted $4 billion Race to the Top and $650 million Investing in Innovation funds under a bill introduced this week by Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

McCollum’s release on the bill says essentially that it was an oversight on Congress’ part to exclude BIE schools from the original funding. And it points out that RttT is supposed to help the neediest kids and that there are a lot of those in Indian Country.Under the measure, the BIE schools could get at least 1 percent, and up to 5 percent, of the overall funding.

But it’s unclear from the bill whether the money would directly go to all BIE schools, or whether they would have to compete with one another for it, as states are doing. If they just get the money free and clear though some type of formula, it’s tough to imagine states who have spent months filling out lengthy grant applications for their piece of the pie being okay with that.

And the introduction of the bill shows that, even before the funds have been allocated, some folks in Congress are already seeking to tweak RttT rules. If the program is extended, as President Barack Obama hopes, I’d expect to see more lawmakers proposing changes.