EDU-torial: Race to the Top Inspires much needed Education Reform

Think this is a bad time to become a teacher? Think again. America is seeing an unprecedented amount of energy being put into nationwide education reform. Through President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment act, billions of dollars are being poured into our public schools in an attempt to revamp and rebuild our way of teaching American youth. Part of this plan was unveiled on November 12th in the form of the “Race to the Top Competition”.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released the final application of the $4.35 billion incentive based plan. The idea is to reward the states that can best raise student performance and inspire achievement through innovative education reform. “The president said last week that Race to the Top will require states to take an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Duncan said, according to a Thursday press release. “We will award grants to the states that have led the way in reform and will show the way for the rest of the country to follow.”

The plot was fueled by public input, as more than 1,100 people left comments, critiques, and suggestions ranging from a paragraph to 67 pages. Through this feedback, the Department of Education was able to construct a more refined and complete application. States hoping to qualify for the reform reward money will have to have plans approved by the Department and must have no legal barriers to linking student growth and achievement data to teachers and principals for the purposes of evaluation.

Because this grant money is given in the form of a competition, states will have to work hard to separate themselves and create the most progressive reform programs possible. This gives struggling states the chance to revamp and heal internal education programs. Different states are responding differently to the chance of receiving millions in grant money. New York and California, among others, will have to do away with foolish laws that prohibit school districts from linking student performance to teacher pay. This gives our teachers added incentive to do the best they can to raise overall performance.

With more attention than we are used to being poured into education programs, this is as important a time as ever for more people to get involved in teaching America’s youth. Whether or not a state wins the competition, this program is clearly a win-win scenario for our schools and students. Find out what your state is doing to bring education into the 21stcentury and how you can help make it happen.

This is an EDU-torial by Justin Kloc: Justin is currently an undergraduate student at Lehigh University. Nearing the end of formal education for the time being, Justin is passionate and enthusiastic of its value for everyone.