Thursday, April 9, 2009

Racing to the top in the Rockies

Denver is once again in the news as it continues to push hard for the second round of stimulus funds, the so-called "Race to the Top" funds. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet is hosting a visit by Secretary Arne Duncan to two Denver schools to show off their innovation:

The two schools Secretary Arne Duncan will visit today — Montclair Elementary and Bruce Randolph schools — have made intentional moves to free themselves from district and union rules. Duncan will be watching that kind of innovation as his department decides how to divide $5 billion in stimulus funds nationwide through a program called "Race to the Top."

"This allows the secretary to point to something tangible that should be rewarded in this new world order," said Joe Williams, director of Democrats for Education Reform. "People watched (President Barack) Obama run on a campaign of change. This is kind of an attempt to show people what that looks like on the ground."

Wait, freeing themselves from district and union rules counts as innovation? Shouldn't we be at least a bit concerned about what difference it makes to the students? And that, at least in Denver, is still up for grabs: But at both schools, the reforms are in their infancy. One has had some modest success, but scores are still low.

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