Keeping Race to the Top Education $Billions in Perspective

Taxpayers should remain skeptical that $4.5 billion for education reform in the states through Race to the Top can make any difference when the Obama Administration is giving states another $10 billion bailout to maintain the status quo through an education jobs program on top of the previous $100 billion education jobs bailout. In addition, the federal education budget proposal for 2011 features an $18 billion dollar increaseto maintain ineffective programs like Title I at $16 billion and Head Start at $8 billion. It is heartening that California, a state with very little education reform, besides the efforts of individual charter schools, failed in the competition; while Florida, a state with multiple accountability and school choice programs won. However, at best, these education dollars will lead to small changes at the margins. At worst, this competition incentivized states to quickly adopt “common core” national standards to improve their chances of getting more federal dollars, even when these standards were lower than state standards in places like California and Massachusetts.