Is the Race to the Top A Race to the Bottom?
Race to the Top funding has helped create some success stories in Delaware's public school system. But this race has also presented its share of hurdles, including a morale problem among the state's teachers. Now the one-time cash infusion is running out.
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When it was announced more than four years ago that Delaware was one of only two states in the country to win $119 million through the first round of the federal Race to the Top competition, there was a feeling of First State pride. It seemed as if everyone was beaming over a one-time cash infusion that would help make the state’s public education system “world class.”
But was winning Race to the Top money really a gift from above or just the latest in a line of failed reform attempts?
It depends on whom you ask.
Those running the Race, so to speak, predictably say that it’s too early to tell. They talk about the difficulties that come with a culture change—a change to the public education system that is quite involved. They note that some of the systems that were put in place through the Race have been up and running for only a couple of years.
They hold up success stories like that of Massachusetts as a model and caution that it takes at least 10 years for such a large-scale reform movement to take hold. They say that effort must be sustained and not scrapped after a few years for the next big thing. Race supporters will tell you that while it has required a lot of time and hard work, there are indications that Delaware is headed in the right direction.