The Louisiana School Boards Associations thinks it would be fiscally irresponsible for the state to go after a slice of the $4 billion in Race to the Top program grants, according to this Associated Press Story.
The boards are worried that the program will eventually amount to an unfunded mandate, in which districts will be expected to keep up with the new activities financed by the grant even after the infusion of federal cash goes away in two years. (One superintendent I talked to in Colorado for this story had similar concerns).
It’s hard to say whether the school boards’ concerns are going to undermine the state’s bid for Race to the Top. Supposedly, states will be judged on the extent to which they have buy-in from key stakeholders, so this might be a black mark for Louisiana. Of course, who is to say that school boards across the country won’t have similar concerns?
Before this happened, Louisiana looked like it had a good shot at a Race to the Top grant. The state is one of the lucky 15 states to get a grant free and clear from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help with their application. (Gates is now extending the offer to all states, but those not originally chosen have to apply). And the New Teacher Project rated Louisiana one of the two most competitive states in the country in the Race to the Top contest, in part because of its record of using student achievement data to drive policy decisions. (Florida is the other state the organization considered most competitive).