Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Who Benefits From The Race To The Top "Powergrab"?

When New York State was up for the Race to the Top money a few years ago, the editorial boards across the state admonished the legislature and the unions to make sure the changes necessary to win RttT came to be because New York's kids needed that extra money for their schools and education.

Given all the changes needed to "win" that Race to the Top dough - including changing the state's standards, tying teacher evaluations to test scores, creating a statewide database for sharing student information - New York was going to spend much more money on the changes needed to get the RttT cash than the state was going to "win" if Arne Duncan made them a RttT winner.

A letter to the Times-Union puts this into perspective

Recent Times Union reports made available two valuable facts related to education in New York. The first is: $22 billion, the amount of this year’s state education aid. The second is: $700 million, the amount over four years provided to New York from the federal Race to the Top grant.

Here’s a problem that is unlikely to be on any of the 2014 math assessments. Yet, it is a problem that, if our Board of Regents, chancellor, legislators and governor had been able to answer, the condition of public education in New York would be far better today.

Perform a cost-benefit analysis of New York’s participation in the Race to the Top dividing $175 million (year four of the grant) by $22 billion to answer the following: “Consider these points: The abandonment of the New York State Learning Standards in favor of the new, untested Common Core Learning Standards written by non-educators paid for by the Gates Foundation; the requirement that junk science utilizing student scores on new assessments be used to evaluate teachers (even for those teachers that don’t provide direct student instruction); the result that teachers teach to a test for fear of losing their jobs; the release of family privacy data to for-profit companies; and the massive new unfunded school mandates. Now, answer this question: Is the financial benefit from this grant worth the true costs?”

Is the short term .795 percent of aid from the federal Department of Education — less than 1 percent of New York’s education budget — worth throwing students, families, teachers, school districts and taxpayers under the bus? Exactly who is benefiting from this power grab?

Ted Smith, Ph.D.

The RttT cash was a small carrot dangled out to ram through such radical changes to the education system that the post-Obama public education system looks nothing like it did before "Change We Can Believe In" won the election.

The entities that benefit from all these changes - the edu-entrepreneurs, the tech companies, the testing regime, "non-profits" who front for corporate education reform, and the charter school industry - are eating away much more than the $700 million NY "won" for RttT.

The lie that the RttT changes needed to be made so the money could be used "for the kids" was egregious even when it was first being made back in 2009 - it was obvious the massive change RttT was requiring was going to cost way more than the $700 million NY could "win."

You rarely here the reform functionaries make this argument anymore because it's so obvious that RttT reforms cost way more than what the state got from the Obama administration (and yeah, I know the NYSED claims a lot of the money is still around and unspent, but that doesn't account for all the money districts around the state have had to spend on APPR, testing, PD, and other expenses required by the RtttT mandates.)

But in the end it was never about the money - it was always about using the money to shove through radical change to the system.

That, my friends, is what the "Change We Can Believe In" president, backed by Gates and Broad money, has brought us.

And make no mistake, these are Obama reforms, not Duncan reforms.

I still see people blaming Arne Duncan for the education policies pursued by the Obama administration.

But the buck stops with Obama - these policies are in place because Obama wants them in place.

The damage Obama has done to public education, the teaching profession schools is the kind that President Goerge W. Bush and his education reformers only could have dreamed of back in the day.

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