Press Release

OAKLAND, CA (March 30, 2010) –The Education Trust—West congratulates Tennessee and Delaware, winners of the first round of the Race to the Top (RTTT) competition.

“Tennessee and Delaware have blazed a path for others to follow,” said Arun Ramanathan, executive director of The Education Trust—West. “We call on California’s leaders to follow the lead of Tennessee and Delaware by including bold and innovative reforms in our application for the second round of Race to the Top funding.”

Our attached fact sheet “Race to the Top: “Why They Won and California Didn’t” should send a strong message to California’s leaders about what it will really take to win the second round of Race to the Top – bold and concrete education reform plans with specific timelines and accountability for implementation. Based on the scores from external reviewers of our application for first round funding, California lost a total of 67 available points in the critical areas of Great Teachers and Leaders and Data Systems. In contrast, both Tennessee and Delaware earned nearly full points in the area of Data Systems and very high scores for their teacher and principal quality reform plans – including their reforms to improve teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance.

In addition, California lost 10 points for our inability to demonstrate significant progress in closing achievement gaps and another 9 points for our weak and insufficient plans to turn around persistently low-performing schools. California has some of the widest achievement gaps in the nation and the recent release of the 2009 nation’s report card (NAEP) reveal that we have made no progress in closing the achievement gaps for our low-income, Latino and African-American students since 2003. Given these depressing results, California’s leaders must ensure that our students can benefit from the types of comprehensive education reforms in the winning state’s applications.

Lastly, the state lost nearly 29 points because of the unfortunate choices made by some school districts and unions to not be part of the RTTT reform agenda, turning their backs on both necessary reforms and the dollars to implement them. Not only did Tennessee and Delaware submit innovative reforms in areas such as teacher quality and data systems, all of their districts and almost all of their teachers’ unions chose to be part of both the application and the reform process.

“Tennessee and Delaware have shown us that powerful state-led reforms can be matched with local commitment to those reforms,”  concluded Ramanathan. “Now is not the time to backslide on a reform agenda in the hopes of getting a few more districts and unions to sign on. Now is the time to promote a vigorous reform agenda and then challenge districts and unions to put the interests of students first by becoming part of part of a coalition that promotes instead of opposes dramatic change.”

Race to the Top – Why They Won and California Didn’t