Race to the Bottom: No grant for Colorado

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Remember all that hubbub earlier this year when the state Legislature passed a law that links teachers' pay and tenure to student performance?

Teachers said it wasn't fair. And a lot of other people disagreed.

Anyways, one of the major reasons that law passed was because Colorado lawmakers were hoping it would help the state reel in huge federal grants from this program that awards states with "progressive" educational systems.

The grant program is called Race to the Top. Colorado had lost the first big contest to get funding.

Today, with the new law in place, the results of the second round were announced, and ... and, actually, Colorado lost. AGAIN. Ouch.

Here's the press release from the state Department of Education:

Colorado Out Of Race To The Top Competition; “We Are Disappointed But Unwavering In Our Resolve To Move Colorado’s Reform Agenda Forward,” Says Commissioner Jones

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that Colorado was not selected as a winner for a Race to the Top grant. Nine other states and the District of Columbia were selected as winners from among a pool of 19 finalists.

Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones today thanked the 119 school districts that had agreed to participate in the Race to the Top reforms and the many individuals who worked collaboratively on the state’s application.

“The conversations sparked by the Race to the Top application process have been valuable and we will continue to pursue Colorado’s education reform agenda with the existing resources and all the energy we can muster,” said Commissioner Jones. “We are undaunted in our resolve and we will continue to push ahead.”

State Board of Education vice-chairman Randy DeHoff said the Colorado reform agenda will remain on track, despite the lack of Race to the Top resources. “It may take us a little longer,” he said, “but we are going to get there….Our reform agenda is the right agenda.”

Gov. Bill Ritter and Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien said they are disappointed that Colorado did not win a Race to the Top grant but said the state continues to implement groundbreaking education reform for the benefit of all school children across the state for generations to come.

“As I have said many times, Colorado has been racing to the top for years, enacting aggressive and ambitious reforms that will improve educational outcomes for the state’s 830,000 public school students,” said Gov. Ritter. “We will not be discouraged. We will continue to focus on what’s important—giving our children a world-class education so that they and our state will thrive.”

Said Lt. Gov. O’Brien: “I am extremely proud of the hard work put in by hundreds of Coloradans who are committed to helping our children reach their highest potential. We established unprecedented partnerships and cooperation across different communities and organizations and school districts and we will build upon those accomplishments to push ahead with our reforms.”

Colorado applied for $175 million to implement sweeping improvements in K-12 education in the areas of implementing internationally benchmarked standards, turning around under-performing schools, improving data systems to generate accurate and relevant performance data and installing the right tools to identify and improve teacher effectiveness. Colorado was a finalist in both rounds of the $4.35 billion competition, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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