Special Report
School & District Management

Minn. Bid for Part of Education Stimulus Hits Snag

By The Associated Press — December 16, 2009 2 min read

Minnesota’s pursuit of a slice of $4.3 billion in federal education money was complicated Wednesday by pressure from the statewide teachers union for the state to change its proposal in order to land its support.

Tom Dooher, president of the Education Minnesota union, said the state Department of Education’s current draft proposal would result in “more bureaucracy, more top-down control from the state into our local school districts and more testing at the expense of great teaching.”

States have until Jan. 19 to apply for “Race to The Top” funding that will be awarded to those that promote ways to recruit and keep effective teachers, track student performance and adopt plans for turning around failing schools. Minnesota stands to attract $175 million to $250 million if its proposal for school innovation is accepted, but stakeholder backing is among the factors considered.

The biggest flashpoint in Minnesota is how student achievement — mostly measured through test results — will be used in determining teacher pay and job security.

Minnesota already has a voluntary pay-for-performance program known as QComp that is in place in 76 districts and charter schools, covering a combined 30 percent of the student population in public schools.

A range of criteria is used to assess teachers, ranging from peer reviews to principal evaluations. Under the proposed application, officials would put more weight on student achievement. Only districts that agree to the tougher standards would be in line for money Minnesota gets; at least half of each state’s award must flow through to school districts.

Minnesota Education Department spokesman Bill Walsh said the union’s objections are better directed at federal officials, who are demanding more accountability.

“If they want the money, they are going to have to do the reform,” Walsh said. “The plan can’t get weakened to the point we lose our competitive advantage with other states. The Obama administration is going to pick 10 or 15 states based on the strength of their plan.”

Citing competitive reasons, the state agency hasn’t made its proposal broadly available to the public. It conducted a 10-city tour this fall seeking input on school changes that would help Minnesota qualify for more grant money.

Dooher said teachers and other school leaders will air their concerns in a meeting with Education Commissioner Alice Seagren planned for Thursday.

Dooher is offering alternatives that include using money to train teachers and principals on how to best use test data to meet student needs and building a recruitment program to lure better teachers to high-needs schools.

States expect to hear by April whether they’ll receive grant money.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management L.A. Unified to Require Testing of Students, Staff Regardless of Vaccination Status
The policy change in the nation's second-largest school district comes amid rising coronavirus cases, largely blamed on the Delta variant.
Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
4 min read
L.A. schools interim Sup Megan K. Reilly visits Fairfax High School's "Field Day" event to launch the Ready Set volunteer recruitment campaign to highlight the nationwide need for mentors and tutors, to prepare the country's public education students for the upcoming school year. The event coincides with National Summer Learning Week, where U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is highlighting the importance of re-engaging students and building excitement around returning to in-person learning this fall. high school, with interim LAUSD superintendent and others. Fairfax High School on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA.
In this July 14, 2021, photo, Los Angeles Unified School District interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly speaks at an event at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. Reilly announced a new district policy Thursday requiring all students and employees of the Los Angeles school district to take weekly coronavirus tests regardless of their vaccination status.
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via TNS
School & District Management Why School Boards Are Now Hot Spots for Nasty Politics
Nationalized politics, shifts in local news coverage, and the rise of social media are turning school board meetings into slug fests.
11 min read
Collage of people yelling, praying, and masked in a board room.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion The Six Leadership Lessons I Learned From the Pandemic
These guiding principles can help leaders prepare for another challenging year—and any future crises to come.
David Vroonland
3 min read
A hand about to touch a phone.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion When the National Education Debate Is Too Noisy, Look Local
A local network of your peers can offer not just practical advice, but an emotional safe harbor.
Christian M. Elkington
2 min read
A team of workmen on scaffolding rely on each other.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images