A Contrarian Perspective on “Race To The Top”

This is my first post since returning from both a NY trip and a family holiday, and I thought I’d start with a bang…..

 

A lot of articles have been published that discuss the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” fund, the largest ever single federal investment in school reform.  I’m going to flat out state taht this effort will fail, much to my dismay.  And here’s why.

 

  1. I truly believe that until we create a set of nationally-driven standards for learning, we will continue to fall behind our international peers.  As mentioned in my 4-part vision for reinventing education in America, the roadmap needs to be a hybrid of nationally-driven vision and locally managed execution. 
  2. I think we need to continue to foster competition in local school districts and support alternative schools such as charter schools, virtual schools and other eLearning programs.  Maybe the answer is not to invest in a complete overhaul of underperforming schools, but ensure that these students are offered options in learning environments that are demonstrating measured success in improving student achievment?
  3. If you look at my 4-part vision, we cannot place the blame on teachers or focus on teachers, as the Gates Foundation is currently doing.  While I have the utmost respect for Gates’ philanthropy, we must first fix the pedagogy, then train the current teachers, get them off of the tenure program, and then pay them on a merit-based system commensurate with corporate america.  We need to incent students to pursue a career in education, and until compensation and other incentives are at a level where teaching is not considered “the contingency plan” for students who cannot attain jobs in other industries, then the system will not be able to attract the high performing talent into the teaching profession.

 

There are many, many other issues I have with the current plans; however, I continue to believe that the intense focus on education will eventually bear fruit.  I just wish that the government would peel one layer at a time rather than a panic-driven all-at-once overhaul.

 

And perhaps I need to be better informed with more details on the program, but from what I have seen, this is the unfortunate conclusion I have come to.

 

I welcome your comments and be on the lookout for additional posts in the days ahead.  Thanks for your readership!!

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