Education Funding

Barbour Vents, Briefly, over Race to Top

By Sean Cavanagh — December 29, 2011 1 min read

In the flurry of recent announcements regarding the winners of the federal Race to the Top awards, I missed this brief (two-sentence) but bitter swipe issued by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, after his state lost out in the early-learning version of the competition.

“Of the nine states that got a Race to the Top award, only one has a Republican governor,” said Barbour in a statement, after the awards were announced Dec. 16. “I wish it had been us.”

By the numbers, Barbour’s right. Of the nine winners in the $500 million early-learning competition—California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington—only one of them, Ohio, has a Republican governor—John Kasich. (Though Rhode Island’s Lincoln D. Chafee is a former Republican turned Indepedent.)

Barbour is the former chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and he was once considered a possible presidential contender in 2012, before deciding that he would not pursue the GOP nomination.

But the early-learning applications were judged by a set of independent peer reviewers, and the Obama administration has said repeatedly that politics have played no role in the issuing of RTT awards. In fact, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said publicly that he purposely chose not to intercede in the granting of awards, even in cases where he thought that a losing state might have deserved to win.

Also worth noting: the GOP fared better a week later, when seven more states were handed awards through another round of Race to the Top, which went to states that were runners-up in the original competition.

Of the seven winners divvying up $200 million in consolation awards—Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—a majority, four of them, are governed by Republicans.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.