Gregoire pushes school districts to get behind the Race to the Top
Gov. Chris Gregoire is asking all 295 school districts in Washington to sign on to the state's bid to win a $250 million federal Race to the Top grant.
Seattle Times education reporter
Gov. Chris Gregoire was right about at least one thing in the federal national Race to the Top competition: Buy-in matters.
The applications of the first two winners — Delaware and Tennessee — had the backing of every single one of their school districts.
Now it's time to see if Gregoire and other state leaders can gain the same level of support here.
On Wednesday, Gregoire sent out a Race to the Top partnership agreement to Washington's 295 school districts and, at a news conference at Foster High in Tukwila, urged them to sign it, along with their local teachers unions.
"Let's show our students we are committed to their success," she said.
She was joined by Mary Lindquist, president of Washington's biggest teachers union, who said she would encourage local teachers' unions to back the effort. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn and Jeff Vincent, chairman of the state Board of Education, also endorsed the application, and leaders of state organizations for principals and superintendents said they are optimistic that their members will join in.
But while it's clear a strong show of support is necessary to win one of the lucrative federal grants — about $250 million for states of Washington's size — some continue to question whether Washington is being bold enough.
The Partnership for Learning, a business-backed group, said it questions whether Washington is serious about winning because its application lacks some elements that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has stressed he'd like to see. Most important, the group said, it would like to see Washington base a significant part of teacher evaluations on student growth, something other states are proposing.
Washington's application for Round 2 is due in June. To meet that deadline, school districts are asked to decide by May 17 whether to sign on.
Round 2 winners will be announced in September.
Washington state sat out the first round because it had not yet passed legislation necessary for the state to qualify to compete. That bill, passed in March, allows Washington to intervene in schools with persistently low test scores and requires districts to revamp the way teachers and principals are evaluated.
Since Tennessee and Delaware were announced as Round 1 winners in late March, some states have said they may not try again.
But Washington is moving ahead as planned, happy to see that buy-in does matter. From the outset, Gregoire has said she wants a plan that has support from those who have to carry it out.
The feds "don't want rhetoric and puffery," she said Wednesday. Washington's application, she said, "is not a bunch of promises that we can't fulfill."
In signing on to Washington's application, school districts must agree to do a number of things, some of which are required under the state's recently passed Race to the Top bill. A sampling: They must agree to use national learning standards now under development. They must increase the number of students who take courses that earn college credit. They also must put new teacher and principal evaluation systems in place by fall 2013, and improve science instruction in elementary schools.
If Washington were to win, districts would receive at least $22 per year per student. For Seattle, that would be $9.5 million over four years, and in Bellevue, it would be $1.5 million.
Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or email@example.com
Furniture & home furnishings
2014 Slammin' Jammin' New Year's Eve Hotel ...
AKC Bichon Frise puppies
AKC Yellow & Black Lab Pups
POST A FREE LISTING