Nathan Stubbs

La. well positioned for ‘Race to the Top' funds

by Nathan Stubbs

Louisiana is one of two states in prime position to capitalize on the U.S. Department of Education’s $4.3 billion ‘Race to the Top’ grant sweepstakes, according to a new report from a national nonprofit group. The New Teacher Project handicaps the race, listing Louisiana and Florida as the only “highly competitive” states.

Included in the federal stimulus package passed earlier this year, the Race to the Top funds will be awarded by Education Secretary Arne Duncan to states with the best plans to foster innovation, raise standards and turn around failing schools. In order to be eligible to apply, states must meet a list of criteria that shows they are in line with President Obama’s education reform agenda. The criteria include many policies already in place in Louisiana, including eliminating any barriers to the expansion of charter schools and allowing for student performance scores to be used in teacher evaluations. The New York Times reports today that several states are now debating policy changes in order to qualify for the grants.