Massachusetts is a winner in the second phase of the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) competitive grant program for school improvement.
The commonwealth stands to receive $250 million, half for participating school districts and half for statewide initiatives. The money will support reform efforts in four areas: standards and assessments; statewide data systems; effective educators; and turning around low-performing schools. These priorities are consonant with those of AIM in its ongoing advocacy for education reform.
The timing of the announcement from the U.S. Department of Education was something of a surprise, as most observers had not expected a decision until after Labor Day.
Massachusetts gained the top score among 19 state applicants, 10 of which won grants. Other winners in this round were the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Each winner will receive between $75 million and $700 million, based on population.
Delaware and Tennessee received grants in the first round of competition.
The award of federal money and the high evaluation score reflect the success of education reform in Massachusetts, new steps taken to strengthen our competitive posture, and the efforts of those who prepared the state’s RTTT submission, effectively revised to address weaknesses identified in the first round.
Governor Deval Patrick, who traveled to Washington to make the case for funding, together with Secretary of Education Paul Reville, Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester, and all of those who put together the application deserve congratulations for its success.
AIM worked with the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education to ensure that Massachusetts submitted a competitive application embodying the priorities of the employer community:
- We advocated for legislative enactment of a bill raising the charter school cap and facilitating state intervention in low-performing schools;
- We also advocated for adoption of the Common Core standards by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education;
- We hosted meetings of business leaders with Commissioner Chester; and
- We urged member employers to work in their local communities for district approval of the RTTT memorandum of understanding.
“The most important part of this win is not the money, welcome as that surely is,” said Richard C. Lord, AIM’s President and CEO.
“Rather, it is the demonstrated commitment to ongoing improvement of our schools, and the willingness to take controversial positive steps, that made our victory possible. AIM will continue its activity in the field of education to ensure that our commonwealth and our students enjoy the full benefits of this unique opportunity.”