Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Louisiana frozen out of Race to the Top funds

Doing a passable impression of the Soup Nazi on the old Seinfeld show, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today said "No money for you" to Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek.

For the second time, our state was frozen out of the education fund known as Race to the Top. In the first round, only Tennessee and Delaware won money; this time, nine states and the District of Columbia will get a share of $3.4 billion from the competition.

Asked for a comment, Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan said the loss changes nothing about the Federation's commitment to student achievement.

“The Louisiana Federation of Teachers remains committed to including educator voice and involvement in any initiatives that affect our profession,” said Monaghan. “Despite this development, we will continue to partner with the state and local school districts in achieving our goal of a quality education for all children."

It did not go unnoticed that Louisiana lost its bid for funding even though Pastorek made the competition a top priority of his department, ramming through numerous controversial policies in an effort to demonstrate his passion for reform.

Associated Press writer Dorie Turner put it this way in her report: "But some education groups said 'Race to the Top' rewarded states that have weak reform efforts while leaving out those like Colorado and Louisiana that have made strides to overhaul their schools."

Could loss of the federal funds have anything to do with a governor who's spent the last few months on a beach loudly criticizing the federal government? Or who bemoaned federal spending even as he handed out oversized cardboard checks written on accounts funded by that same government?

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