Education Week just reported that Kentucky has lost out (again) on a Race to the Top federal education funding competition. This time it was for the Early Learning Grants.
The RTTT Early Learning Grants, which will average around $55.6 million to each of the nine states that won the competition, will help develop improved early learning opportunities for preschool children.
This is going to be a disturbing blow in cash-strapped Frankfort.
This situation also raises a host of issues.
• Washington, DC is sending us a message – our education reform proposals consistently have not appealed to them.
This latest rejection marks a third strike for us in the RTTT ball game. The state is clearly expensively out of sync with what DC finds appealing in education reform proposals.
• It is significant that six of the nine states are REPEAT RTTT winners! Only one winner is not a charter school state.
We know DC really likes charter schools, and it is becoming apparent that DC is concentrating its education dollars in certain states where it likes education reform proposals.
We also know that the DC crowd is increasingly upset with teachers’ union interference in meaningful education reform.
Thus, Kentucky’s foot dragging on implementing charter school legislation – driven in no small measure by resistance from the Kentucky Education Association, the dominant teachers’ union here – may be hurting the Bluegrass State in the federal money races. This may be sending messages to the feds that the teachers’ union in Kentucky is too influential and is likely to stifle other meaningful education reform measures, too.
• Another thing that may have hurt: the application wanted information about student data systems.
Kentucky is very far behind in this area. Seriously lagging most other states, our Infinite Campus student monitoring and tracking program for K to 12 students only recently came on line. We will be the last state in the country to get high quality graduation rates – a high interest item in DC – from our state’s student data system.
Washington knows our data system track record, and that history certainly can’t build confidence in our future potential to excel. Kentucky should have concentrated more attention on getting this right much sooner. Now, we are playing catch-up, and left out.