From the Statehouse

Race to Top pace slows

The “golden ticket” of the Race to the Top, the competitive portion of the federal stimulus law that’s focused on education reform, seems to be receding further into the future.

It looks like federal Department of Education leaders are remaking the program as they go, and various deadlines and the eventual awards of cash are being pushed back.

Here are some of the latest developments, as revealed at a recent meeting of governors and gubernatorial aides in North Carolina and at other venues:

Initial DOE guidance for states on the Race was supposed to be released this month but now won’t come until July. Reportedly the document needed more work because of feedback and questions from states.

Issuance of that document now will trigger a 60-day period for comment and hearings.
DOE may be adding early childhood and higher education components to the Race. As originally announced, the Race was to focus on teacher quality, data and testing systems, low-performing schools and benchmark standards and assessments.

The official request for proposals won’t be issued until October, with a Dec. 1 deadline for states to submit applications. Announcement of winning grants won’t be made until next February.
DOE originally said 10 percent of Race grants would be issued late this year, with the remaining 90 percent going out next spring. The 10/90 split apparently has been dropped.

But, in addition to the Dec. 1 deadline, states also will have an opportunity to apply in June or July 2010.

There’s apparently no word yet on the total $4.3 billion in Race grants may be divided among the Dec. 1 and 2010 applicants.

Speaking elsewhere, DOE Secretary Arne Duncan also said up to $350 million of Race funds would go to states to create rigorous assessments linked to the internationally benchmarked common standards being developed by a group of states (including Colorado).

Despite the shifting signals, Colorado leaders remain optimistic about the state’s chances. “We think we’re a ready state [but] I don’t know if we’re going to get it,” said Matt Gianneschi, Gov. Bill Ritter’s education advisor. “We had thought this would be over by October.”

Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien said, “Every single policy area discussed at the Race to the Top summit indicates that Colorado is well-positioned to receive Race to the Top funds. However, we still know that we have to push the boundaries of innovation and achievement to be successful.”

O’Brien’s office is proceeding with plans to create advisory committees around the four areas of emphasis listed above.

Still up the air is the summer and fall schedule for the P-20 Education Coordinating Council. The governor’s office wants to give the council assignments that won’t conflict with Race preparation, but the change in the feds’ schedule has introduced a new complication.

Some stimulus money is flowing. The governor’s office announced this week that $1.4 million has been awarded for AmeriCorps-related programs in Colorado, the kinds of programs that often involve at-risk youth. The state also reported $12.7 million in stimulus-related research grants to the University of Colorado.

awarding leaders

Meet the nine finalists for Tennessee Principal of the Year

PHOTO: Shelby County Schools
From left: Docia Generette-Walker receives Tennessee's 2016 principal of the year honor from Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. Generette-Walker leads Middle College High School in Memphis. This year's winner will be announced in October.

Nine school leaders are up for an annual statewide award, including one principal from Memphis.

Tracie Thomas, a principal at White Station Elementary School, represents schools in Shelby County on the state’s list of finalists. Last year, Principal Docia Generette-Walker of Middle College High School in Memphis received the honor.

Building better principals has been a recent focus for Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen as roles of the school leaders change under school improvement efforts.

“Successful schools begin with great leaders, and these nine finalists represent some of the best in our state,” McQueen said. “The Principal of the Year finalists have each proven what is possible when school leaders hold students and educators to high expectations.”

The winner will be announced at the state department’s annual banquet in October, where the winner of Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year will also be announced.

The finalists are:

West Tennessee

  • Tracie Thomas, White Station Elementary, Shelby County Schools
  • Stephanie Coffman, South Haven Elementary, Henderson County School District
  • Linda DeBerry, Dyersburg City Primary School, Dyersburg City Schools

Middle Tennessee

  • Kenneth “Cam” MacLean, Portland West Middle School, Sumner County Schools
  • John Bush, Marshall County High School, Marshall County Schools
  • Donnie Holman, Rickman Elementary School, Overton County Schools

East Tennessee

  • Robin Copp, Ooltewah High School, Hamilton County Schools
  • Jeff Harshbarger, Norris Middle School, Anderson County Schools
  • Carol McGill, Fairmont Elementary School, Johnson City Schools

you better work

Hickenlooper, on national TV, calls for bipartisanship on job training for high school graduates

PHOTO: Nicholas Garcia
Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke to reporters on the eve of the 2017 General Assembly.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Sunday said Republicans and Democrats should work together to rethink how states are preparing high school graduates for the 21st century economy.

“It’s not a Republican or Democratic issue to say we want better jobs for our kids, or we want to make sure they’re trained for the new generation of jobs that are coming or beginning to appear,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, appeared on the Sunday public affairs program alongside Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, to discuss their work on healthcare.

The Colorado governor brought up workforce training after moderator John Dickerson asked what issues besides healthcare both parties should be addressing.

“Two-thirds of our kids are never going to have a four-year college degree, and we really haven’t been able to prepare them to involve them in the economy where the new generations of jobs require some technical capability,” Hickenlooper said. “We need to look at apprenticeships. We need to look at all kinds of internships.”

Hickenlooper has long supported a variety of education reform policies including charter schools and linking student test scores to teacher evaluations. Last fall he backed a new program that is expected to this year connect 250 Colorado high school students with paid job training.

Watch Hickenlooper and Kasich here. Hickenlooper’s remarks on job training begin right before the 11- minute mark.