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Polis, Lieberman Introduce Race to the Top Education Reform Bill

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Washington, Apr 14, 2011 | comments

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today introduced legislation authorizing the highly successful Race to the Top competitive education reform grant initiative. Race to the Top grants encourage and reward states that demonstrate a strong commitment to bold education reforms. First funded in 2009, Race to the Top has already sparked 46 states to develop statewide education reform plans.

“I’m pleased to re-introduce this legislation,” said Lieberman. “The positive impact that Race to the Top has already had in generating critical reforms in our schools is evident. It is important to continue this initiative, not only for students but for our teachers and parents. Moving forward to encourage innovation in our public schools is essential to the success of education in this country and the Race to the Top competition has proven to be an effective and successful model to spur reform.”

“Race to the Top makes winners out of all of our children because it encourages effective education reforms aimed at making every school an excellent school,” said Polis. “We’ve driven positive change with Race to the Top grants, and this legislation will ensure that we build on these successful education reforms. Across America, Race to the Top has unleashed a wave of creative education reforms, which is why it’s essential that we keep this momentum moving forward in states and school districts everywhere.”

“With less than 1 percent of the annual K-12 education spending in our country, Race to the Top has helped advance reform more in the past 18 months than any other program in the history of the Department of Education,” said U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “To sustain the tremendous momentum we’ve seen in the states, President Obama and I have proposed to continue the program for states and expand it by inviting school districts to create their own roadmaps for reform. With the introduction of this legislation, Senator Lieberman and Congressman Polis have taken a big step toward making that a reality. I appreciate their outstanding leadership on this issue and look forward to continuing to work with Congress to support collaboration and innovative reforms at the state and local levels through the Race to the Top.”

Race to the Top is delivering real results for students and families. Since its inception: 

  • 46 states and the District of Columbia developed statewide reform plans;
  • 16 states changed laws to facilitate intervention at low-performing schools;
  • 22 states enacted laws to improve teacher quality, including alternative certification, effectiveness and evaluation systems;
  • 42 states and DC have adopted high college- and career-ready standards; and,
  • 16 states have altered laws or policies to create or expand the number of charter schools.

The Race to the Top Act of 2011 would extend the competition to school districts and authorize $1.35 billion in funding for 2012, and such funds as are necessary for the next five years. The legislation:

  • Encourages and rewards the implementation of comprehensive reforms and innovative strategies that close the achievement gap and remove barriers to innovation through 4-year competitive grants;
  • Supports increased teacher and principal effectiveness and efforts to ensure that all students have equal opportunity to be taught by effective educators;
  • Strengthens the use of high-quality data to improve instruction and student outcomes;
  • Incentivizes the adoption of internationally benchmarked college- and career-ready standards that prepare students for success in a global economy;
  • Opens the competition to school districts in addition to states;
  • Promotes early learning programs to ensure that kids are prepared to learn when they enter the public school system;
  • Holds states and districts accountable  by making funds conditional to progress toward performance goals, and requires annual reporting;
  • Directs the Secretary of Education to ensure that the evaluation of applications is transparent, fair and objective; and,
  • Ensures a priority for rural and high-poverty districts.
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