If you haven’t read Michele’s thoughtful story on the final Race to the Top rules, you should do so immediately. She mentions that the Education Department has set “non-binding” spending levels for how big each winning state’s grant might be. The levels are based on the number of school-age children in the state. For instance, just four states, California, Florida, New York, and Texas, are eligible for the biggest grants, ranging from $350 million to $750 million each.
Not surprisingly, it sounds like some states are less than thrilled about the size of their possible awards.
Take Colorado, for instance. The state would only be eligible for up to $175 million if the department, indeed, uses these ranges. Colorado is likely to submit a grant proposal much larger than that, according to this Denver Post story, and let the department decide whether to scale it back. And it sounds like Colorado officials are holding out hope that they may get more money if a few of the bigger states aren’t picked. Since the amounts are non-binding they may have a shot. On the other hand, I’m sure the department floated those numbers for a reason.
When I was out in Colorado reporting this story, some folks mentioned they thought they’d be eligible for more money, around the $350 million level. The state has been pouring enormous energy into its application, and I have to wonder if its process might have been have different if officials had known they may only be eligible for half of what they were expecting.
Indiana officials also seem pretty ticked off. Tony Bennett, the superintendent for public instruction in Indiana, put out a statement yesterday that made it clear he thinks there may be better ways to figure out who gets how much.
“I am disappointed in the USDOE’s choice to set target amounts for specific states, capping the funding for states regardless of their approach and commitment to reform. It’s my belief that America’s students would benefit more from Race to the Top if the quality, aggressiveness, and comprehensiveness of states’ reform plans determine the funding amount,” Bennett wrote.