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Race To The Top Failure - Thursday, April 1, 2010

Race to the Top

First Round Loss by Louisiana

March 30, 2010

Statement by Mrs. Stella Lasseigne

President, Louisiana School Boards Association

 

        Superintendent Paul Pastorek announced, Monday, to Louisiana School Boards Association leadership that his proposal for first round funding in the Race to the Top had not been successful and that Tennessee and Delaware were the only two of the final 16 state competitors selected.  Louisiana’s ranking was eleventh among the sixteen finalists.

            The Louisiana School Boards Association’s opposition to the Louisiana proposal was clearly stated at the outset.  Because of the provision that at the termination of the grant, the local districts would be required to find continued support from its own sources indicated to most boards that it was not fiscally responsible to take part in the one-time stimulus funded program.  Such a position is similar to the stance taken by Gov. Bobby Jindal on rejecting non-reoccurring stimulus funding for continuing programs. 

             In addition, the National Research Council clearly warned the U.S. Department of Education against over-reliance on testing in evaluating teacher performance.  The declared lack of research supporting such over-reliance provided further grounds for LSBA positioning on the RTTT application.

            LSBA’s position that these conditions alone precluded its support in no way should be interpreted as resistance to change.  LSBA members struggled to bring about constructive change over dozens of years and is reflected in gradually improving schools and test performance.  LSBA’s opposition was also based upon the contract language that required long term commitments to programs that were in no way defined.  In the RTTT reviewers’ reports can be found several flaws that would have come back to haunt participating districts.  One RTTT reviewer concluded, in his review of the Louisiana proposal, "It’s not clear that the Department of Education has the capacity to carry out this agenda.” 

             Finally, the LSBA position on the imprudence of signing a contract with unclear definitions can be found in the RTTT reviewer comments.  One technical reviewer comment observed, that apparently, "LA hopes to scale up R2T by a small seed fund-undefined, information, and a demonstration effect and public and peer pressure.  It seems to hope that these plus the goals set in the existing State plan and a passing reference to technical assistance will motivate other LEAs.  This is not sufficient.  There will not be any significant and lasting state wide impact as a result of this plan.”

            LSBA’s leadership can be counted upon to continue to work toward meaningful and constructive change, and to work at safeguarding its member districts against intrusion of the federal government into education that has historically been the province of the community.  The entire tenor of the RTTT proposal was to emphasize federal and state undue influence.  LSBA membership clearly is not supportive of this principle.


 

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