Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Federal

Miller to Duncan: Set a High Standard on Race to the Top Grants

By Alyson Klein — May 20, 2009 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, today urged Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to be very picky in determining which states should get money under the Race to the Top fund, a $4.35 billion pot of money created as part of the stimulus package to encourage states to work on teacher distribution, assessments, data-systems, and standards.

Giving a brand-new Secretary of Education broad discretion over such a huge discretionary grant program – privately dubbed Arne’s Slush fund by some during the stimulus debate - was “an amazing act for the Congress but … also a vote of confidence in you,” Miller said at a hearing of the committee, Duncan’s first time testifying before the committee.

But, he warned Duncan to hold firm in deciding who gets the grants, only giving them to states that are really serious about enacting reform.

“When you put $5 billion on the table in Washington, D.C., there’s no shortage of people who will have an interest in that agenda, no matter what it is,” Miller said.

He said the department should go for quality over quantity. “I think it would be better to have fewer entities doing more because they can be the pathway, the beacon [to others],” Miller said. “I’m not sure everybody should be able to participate just because there’s so much money.”

There has been speculation in Washington that, given the sorry condition of most state’s finances, the department might give a piece of the Race to the Top Funding to almost everyone. I wonder if that’s why Miller worked so hard to make it clear that wasn’t Congress’ intention in creating the program.

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the top Republican on the committee, said there are policies on which the administration and GOP lawmakers agree at the 30,000-foot level - such as that there should be more charter schools. But he pressed the Secretary for specifics on how the federal government can encourage their proliferation.

Duncan said he’d be asking states whether they have charter caps in determining who gets those Race to the Top funds. That could set off debate in state legislatures on whether the grants are worth getting into a fight with charter school detractors.

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., asked Duncan about No Child Left Behind Act’s reauthorization, which is supposed to ramp up this year. The Ed Sec gave a pretty vague answer on that one.

“We need to get this right,” Mr. Duncan said. “We have a chance to think blue skies.” He said Congress should keep in place the parts of the law that are working, but fix the parts that aren’t. “Let’s not tweak around the edges, let’s fix it. I just want to ask all of you to work with me and really do a much better job of making sure that we do the right thing by children.” So... I’m guessing that means the administration is still working on its NCLB renewal game plan.

And there was definitely a lot of mutual admiration between Duncan and Miller, who many folks say are pretty much on the same page when it comes to K-12 policy. Miller praised Duncan’s work in Chicago and called him a “true disruptor” – Miller’s number one qualification for an Education Secretary.

Duncan thanked Miller for being so helpful in his transition to Washington and for being “an absolute champion” for children. “Thank you for your leadership, your heart and passion … for kids in this country,” Duncan said.

No hugging though.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

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

Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal Feds Add Florida to List of States Under Investigation Over Restrictions on Mask Mandates
The Education Department told the state Sept. 10 it will probe whether its mask rule is violating the rights of students with disabilities.
3 min read
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal How Biden Will Mandate Teacher Vaccines, Testing in Some States That Don't Require Them
President Joe Biden's COVID-19 plan will create new teacher vaccination and testing requirements in some states through worker safety rules.
4 min read
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., on March 15, 2021.
Nurse Sara Muela administers a COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site for at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa.
Matt Rourke/AP
Federal Biden Pushes Schools to Expand COVID-19 Testing, Get More Teachers Vaccinated
President Joe Biden set teacher vaccine requirements for federally operated schools as part of a new effort to drive down COVID's spread.
7 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington. Biden is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
President Joe Biden in a speech from the White House announces sweeping new federal vaccine requirements and other efforts in an renewed effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Harnik/AP