Education Funding Opinion

Everybody Loves i3?

By Sara Mead — July 21, 2010 1 min read
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Alyson Klein’s got an interesting post up asking why approps Committee Chairman Obey’s edujobs bill targeted RTT, TIF and charter schools programs for grants, but not i3--an ARRA-funded Obama initiative that would seem like a shoe-in for inclusion to the list. The always-smart Charlie Barone offers some good perspective here.

Three additional points I think are worth noting on this:

  • Because RTT is a state-level competition, with clearly defined criteria, and will give out relatively few awards, lots of members of Congress know their states aren’t going to benefit from RTT, making it easy for them to support cuts. i3 will give more, smaller awards. And with nearly 1,700 applications in from all over the country, most members of Congress can still believe someone in their district has a shot at benefitting from these grants. This is also one reason the administration’s decision to seek to expand RTT to include districts as well as states is probably politically smart.
  • “Innovation” is a lot less clearly defined than the reform requirements in RTT, allowing folks from all sorts of perspectives to think i3 was intended to fund their pet idea--as a quick perusal of the applications received demonstrates--and avoiding the creation of segments of ideological or interest opposition to i3 that developed with RTT.
  • i3 awards haven’t been made yet, so all those nearly 1,700 applicants still think they have a shot. BUT, if folks raised questions about RTT review, i3 is going to make that look like a cakewalk. The application and guidance left a lot of questions and unclarity for applicants that the Department declined to answer, and it was a challenge for the Department to find independent reviewers. Keep an eye on response and what people say about the reviewing after the awards are announced. It will be interesting to see if the current level of support for the program holds up.
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The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.