To the Editor:
A front-page headline in the Jan. 18, 2012, issue was “Recipients of RTT Aid Struggling.” Two weeks later, the article “Obama Rolls Out New Higher Education Initiatives” (Feb. 1, 2012) noted that the administration was proposing a $1 billion Race to the Top-style competition to encourage states to improve their higher education systems. Do President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan not know how states are struggling after winning Race to the Top grants?
For weeks, Education Week has documented challenges faced by states like Florida, Hawaii, and New York as they seek to implement the grand ideas that won them hundreds of millions of dollars. “These 12 states created aggressive plans that set a high bar for reform. ... We are supporting states to help them achieve their goals. At the same time, we will hold them accountable,” Mr. Duncan said in the Jan. 18 article.
I see the Race to the Top “aggressive plans” as exercises in creative writing. They all emphasize policies the Obama administration favors: adopting common standards for student learning; building comprehensive databases of our children’s personal information from preschool through college; and connecting teachers’ salaries to students’ test scores. It’s an ABC of promises made.
Having won Race to the Top millions, the Jan. 18 article said, states “have suffered setbacks as they struggle to find high-quality staff members and contractors to do the work,” and “states have also struggled ... to build or complete sophisticated data systems.” Educrats cannot easily translate promised reforms into reality.
The Feb. 1 article said President Obama was also proposing a $55 million competition for colleges to “scale up promising strategies in areas such as technology and early-college preparation.” These require collaboration with already overwhelmed and underfunded secondary schools.
Having taught 200 math students daily, I cannot fathom how busy educators can comply with these plans. I foresee more promises that leave reality behind.
Betty R. Kazmin
The writer is a retired math teacher.
A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as RTT Plans Are Not Feasible Solutions