November 4th, 2009
03:46 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama highlights federal grants for education reform

Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined President Obama on a trip to Wisconsin Wednesday where Obama spoke about education reform.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined President Obama on a trip to Wisconsin Wednesday where Obama spoke about education reform.

MADISON, Wisconsin (CNN) - President Barack Obama took his education reform campaign on the road Wednesday, highlighting a new $4.35 billion grant program designed to encourage higher standards and stronger teacher recruitment, among other things.

The "Race to the Top" fund is one of the largest federal investments in school reform in U.S. history, Obama said. It is being financed with money made available through the economic stimulus plan enacted in February.

"We're putting over $4 billion on the table ... but we're not just handing it out to states because they want it," Obama told an audience at a Wisconsin public charter school.

"If you're committed to real change in the way you educate your kids, if you're willing to hold yourselves more accountable and if you develop a strong plan to improve the quality of education in your state, then we'll offer you a big grant to help make that plan a reality."

The president outlined four key reform measures that will be used to help determine a state's eligibility for grant money.

First, it will need to adopt rigorous, international benchmarked standards.

The goal is not merely to encourage "teaching to the test," he said. It's about "finally getting testing right."

Second, the state will need to demonstrate a commitment to policies designed to encourage the recruitment and retention of effective teachers and principals. Conversely, teachers that fail to adequately perform need to be removed, he said.

Third, it will need to design systems to measure student success.

Finally, federal officials will examine whether a state is taking steps to overhaul its lowest-performing schools.

"We'll look at whether they're willing to remake a school from top to bottom, with new leaders and a new way of teaching," Obama said. The process of doing so may include replacing a school's staff or even closing a school and sending its students to a better one nearby, he noted.

In order to be eligible for the grants, states cannot have rules prohibiting the linkage of data on student achievement to teachers and principles for evaluation purposes, the White House noted.

Competition for the grants will be conducted in two rounds, according to administration officials. The first round starts later this month; the second will occur in June 2010. Grant winners will be announced in April and September of 2010.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Meh

    Wut? We dont need no learnin' in this hear country! Sozializt!!!

    November 4, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Fenarkleman

    Get rid of No Child Left Behind. Making retarded children have to excel in math and science when they are struggling just to function as much as they can now is insane. Also, makes no sense to force schools to enact this garbage and not give them money to make it work.

    November 4, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  3. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    I believe it is too late for anyone to believe.
    What will happen when all this monopoly money that the Federal reserve printed out of thin air runs out in 2011?
    12.1 trillion dollars of debt and going up every second. That is 9 trillion dollars of debt in 10 months folks. The value of the US dollar is at best 4.5 cents each, some already feel it is worthless now, hence the price of gold today.

    November 4, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  4. Biased

    Isn't this a form of bribery with government money in saying that you can only apply for this money if you get rid of state laws that we don't like and redo teachers' contracts?

    November 4, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. Jeremy in Albuquerque

    Thank you Boss. Keep up the great work.

    November 4, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. rob

    Sounds like "No Child Left Behind" except its paid with STIMULUS funds. I thought this was an emergency fund designed to creat jobs and get us out of this economic decline. And, the Stimulus will be a one time payment, who will be on the hook for the $ when the fed $ runs out????? Ahhh...the States. This is typical slight of hand. Sounds like Obama is running for re-election already.

    November 4, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. DAVE

    the unions are already wining about the stipulations that make it about the performance of the teachers and not the scoring of schools as a whole.... boo hoo.... they might actually have to teach our kids in an effective way and show results to get federal funding..... this notion should be made mandatory money or not and if these teachers can't get the job done then they and there unions need to hit the road..... Charter schools are the way to go.. let parents decide on which school with there tax dollar gets the privilege of educating there kids and if they can't get it done then they will shut down........

    November 4, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    Is this one of those NEA things that has dumbed down this country so much while giving the teachers more money and time off. The National Education Association (it is a union dummy) has ripped off more people than any single organization in this country all with help from the liberals who are intent on ripping more of us off with their lies and scams.

    November 4, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. kaleto

    Without that grant money, thousands of teachers in California will be in the unemployment line next school year instead of in the classroom where they belong.

    November 4, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    The poorest performing schools tend to be in the inner city where we have more money per student spent than in other parts of the nation with the exception of the rural schools where the tax base is limited. A big part of this is to many administrators and not enough teaching anad also the attitude of the students which my oldest son experieinced in Norfolk Va. What the President stated above will not happen since it steps on the teachers unions and no democrat will do that. We need to stop dumbing down our students to make the minority feel good. When I was a kid in Davis California we were taught by our abilities not by the slowest students ability! That and bilingual education have hurt California and America!

    November 4, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. S.B.

    This sounds like more of the same to me. We need to get away from all this emphasis on passing a test and get back to an emphasis on how kids learn and making school an enjoyable experience so kids will want to stay in school. At the high school level that should mean vocational education for many. All this testing may be fine for those on track to go to college, but it turns many children off to getting an
    education. As in any profession there may be a few in teaching who shouldn't be there, but that's a pretty minor problem. Most who aren't good teachers discover for themselves that they're not cut out to be educators and go into something else that pays better. You can't expect to have the cream of the crop as educators though, and then pay them a tree trimmer's salary.

    November 4, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. gt

    teacher unions pay back,,,,

    November 4, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Leon

    LOL - look Obama is doing more good/positive things! QUICK! Find something wrong w/ giving money to help educate American children! Hurry, Republicans! HURRRYYYYYY!! hahahahhaa...

    November 4, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  14. LacrosseMom

    "No Child Left Behind" was a joke. The man who started the program in Texas had to admit it, even as Bush's Sec. of Education. "No Child Left Behind" was a disaster in Texas, and has been for our nation.

    Sadly, we, Americans hate to pay taxes, and its only through taxes that schools are funded. Our state is one of the worst ones in the nation for funding schools! How will we educate the future, engineers, doctors, scientists, techies, IF we are not willing to fund their education?

    The United States is falling behind Third Word countries in Math & Science! When will America wake up and agree to sacrifice for our children's futures?

    November 4, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. Retired Canadian teacher

    Basing teacher's performance or merit pay on children's performance does not work. I was involved in that experiment in Canada, and it lasted just a few years before it was scrapped. It turned a great group of teachers working together into a setting of one where new ideas were not shared, people didn't work together like they used to and all because money was concerned and people felt that if they shared what worked for them with others, some might be rewarded and get the praise while they were overlooked. It also turned into a lot of "sucking up" to the administration in order to curry favour in the hopes of getting the merit pay. It became a "principal's pet" type joke rather than teacher's pet. It also leads to an animosity when classes are set up for the next year because no one wanted the lower performing students. And please, parents...a teacher can teach the same thing day after day but can never promise that your child will "learn" it.
    So please, it might be great to stick it to the teacher's unions, but going this way does not improve the atmosphere of any school and our trial at it didn't last long.

    November 4, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. GI Joe

    Only the wealthy deserve an education. Let's give them more tax breaks so they can send their kids to college.

    (Bush's plan in a nutshell)

    November 4, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. Buck

    Don't tell me I ain't lerned good! Keep yer dirty gubmint paws off the edacational sistem. Filthy conumist filth!

    November 4, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. DAVE

    california teachers union is probably the worst in the country....... this group actually donated 1.6 MILLION of there members money to give to help fight for the right of gay's to marry in our state..... the union should be disbanded and have all new requirements and interviews to see who the good teachers are and able to get rid of the bad....... then i might consider not homeschooling my kids.....

    November 4, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. Lisa

    "First, it will need to adopt rigorous, international benchmarked standards. "

    Good! I did the International Baccalaureate program in high school, and have always thought it would be a good model of education to adopt. It did a world of good for those of us that graduated, and there was a huge difference in quality of education. It was an eye-opener as to how behind our public benchmarks and standards are.

    November 4, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. judy

    i don't understand what all the fuss is about. i say that as americans, we have the right to have personal garage sales. others will disagree. i, for one, am in favor of garage sales and if you don't like it then ... don't have one. thank you.

    November 4, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |