Rick Perry, Race to Top Critic, to Take Reins at RGA?

By Sean Cavanagh — November 15, 2010 1 min read
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Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who once said that the federal Race to the Top competition would “undermine states’ authority to determine how their students are educated,” is apparently in the running to become the next chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Perry, who won re-election on Nov. 2 by defeating former Houston mayor Bill White, has been one of the most strident critics of federal stimulus spending, although his state has also accepted billions of that aid. He was particularly vocal in denouncing Race to the Top, calling the federal competition an attempt by the Obama administration “to bait states into adopting national standards,” and refusing to have Texas take part.

Whether Perry’s possible ascension to the RGA throne—he would replace Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour—would lead to a discernible increase in Republican governors’ antagonism toward Race to the Top is an open question.

As we’ve reported, Race to the Top has prodded states across the country to make policy changes that appeal to many conservatives. It supports pay-for-performance for teachers and new methods of evaluating them, new and improved uses of data, and charter school expansion. Eleven states, plus the District of Columbia, won a share of the $4 billion competition on the promise that they’d administer those policies.

If Perry uses the RGA platform to trash Race to the Top, that would seem to put some of his fellow GOP governors from the winning states in an awkward position. I’m talking about the newly crowned governor of Ohio, John Kasich (whose state was a $400 million winner), Nathan Deal of Georgia ($400 million) and Rick Scott of Florida ($700 million). Their states were round two winners in the competition.

All of those governors—assuming they move ahead with their states’ award-winning plans—will be going through the tricky process of implementing their Race to the Top blueprints in the months ahead. Will Perry be cheering them on? Or will he remain a determined Race to the Top critic?

Photo of Rick Perry from AP.

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