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Where did the Department of Education’s ‘Race to the Top’ lead?

U.S. President Barack Obama visits Wright Middle School in Madison

We are fast approaching the fifth anniversary, on Jan. 10, of when state applications are due to apply for awards under President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program.

Passed in early 2009 as part of the Obama administration’s economic stimulus package, Race to the Top offered $4.3 billion to be split among states that won a contest demonstrating they would use the money to enact what administration education reformers, led by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, outlined as steps to improve America’s failing K-12 public education system. This system perennially spends more money per student compared to other countries, yet produces results at the middle or low end when it comes to how American children compare to their peers around the world.

Because Race to the Top was cleverly cast as a contest among states and their governors for much-needed federal dollars, it attracted outsized publicity, and quickly made education reform a high-profile political issue.

At the top of Duncan’s list of prescribed reforms was overhauling the way school systems evaluate teachers, reward them for good performance and weed out the worst performers.

from The Great Debate:

Dems shouldn’t mess with Texas

 

There has been much ado lately about the Democratic Party’s new project to turn Texas blue. What’s lost on the liberals in D.C., California and Manhattan who will throw money at this futile effort, however, is that the Texas Republican Party is different and far stronger than its counterparts in other states. And it’s not just because the Lone Star State under Republican control has become the envy of the nation in terms of job creation and economic growth.

One reason Democrats think the GOP’s hold over Texas is so precarious is demographics. Latinos make up 38 percent of the state population, a portion that is projected to rise to more than 50 percent by 2030. Since GOP nominee Mitt Romney got a dismal 27 percent of the Latino vote in November, it seems intuitive that a growing Latino population would spell trouble for Republicans. Yet Texas Republicans have done far better with Latinos than Republicans nationally because their approach to immigration has not been the antagonistic sort offered by Republicans in California, Arizona and other states.

from Tales from the Trail:

Expecting lots of entries from Red States?

OBAMA/

It's not quite the glee club or football championship.

U.S. high schools will flex their competitive muscles this spring for a different sort of prize -- President Barack Obama as speaker at  this spring's graduation ceremony.  But to catch that particular brass ring, they will have to show not how well their students can sing or tackle, but make the case for how dedicated they are to providing an excellent education.

The White House announced its  "Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge" on Friday, which it says "encourages schools to show how they are making great strides on personal responsibility,  academic excellence and college readiness."

from Tales from the Trail:

Hoop Dreams: Obama puts on full-court press at White House

Forget about Afghanistan, healthcare and the economy. President Barack Obama took time out on Thursday to indulge in his favorite sport as he hosted cabinet members and lawmakers for a round of pickup games on the White House basketball court.

OBAMA/It was the biggest day of hoop dreams at the White House since Obama took office, and reporters disappointed at being kept away went one-on-one with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs before the opening tip-off.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama assembling high-powered basketball team

WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama did not have to look far to find his choice for education secretary -- just across the basketball court.

USA-OBAMA/Obama and his education choice, Arne Duncan, play pick-up basketball games together, and Duncan has a history in the sport having played on the Harvard basketball team while a student there and then professionally in Australia.

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