Race to the Top taught us that competition and incentives drive reform . . .So even as we continue funding important formula programs like Title I and IDEA, we are adding money to competitive programs that are changing the landscape of our educational system.
The quote is from Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education in a February 1, 2010 press release on President Obama’s new budget for education. It’s hard to miss the new emphasis on reform, innovation and competition. Gosh, states now battle with each other for Race to the Top funds – and may the best application win.
I wonder, if everyone benefits from states competing, you’d think the same logic would apply to schools. The reality is, such logic is still alien to the federal mindset. President Obama has not supported a single real initiative to bring competition to our schools since taking office. In fact, earlier this year – despite favorable Congressional evaluations — President Obama and Secretary Duncan worked to dismantle the DC Opportunity Scholarship program, a voucher program that allowed 3,300 of Washington’s poorest families to attend quality private schools. A new emphasis on competition? Don’t believe it. Actions speak louder than words.