Maryland and Washington, D.C., are among 19 finalists recognized for their “bold” plans for education reforms, according to the U.S. Education Department.
The jurisdictions beat out 17 other applicants for more than $3 billion available in the second round of funding in the Race to the Top program, said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a recent speech at the National Press Club, who called the plans evidence of a “quiet revolution.”
“This quiet revolution is driven by motivated parents who want better educational options for their children. It’s being driven by great educators and administrators who are challenging the defeatism and inertia that has trapped generations of children in second-rate schools,” he said in a statement.
The finalists will travel to Washington to present their plans for transforming underperforming schools, raising standards, improving teachers and using innovative means to educate students. Based on those presentations and an extended question-and-answer period, the finalists will be decided and the winners announced in September.
“Just as in the first round, we’re going to set a very high bar because we know that real and meaningful change will only come from doing hard work and setting high expectations,” Duncan said.
Race to the Top is one among several federal programs, including the Investing in Innovation Fund, the Teacher Incentive Fund, the School Improvement Grants under Title I, and the federal charter school program, that will be distributing almost $10 billion to aid states and local jurisdictions in comprehensive school reform.
“As we look at the last 18 months, it is absolutely stunning to see how much change has happened at the state and local levels, unleashed in part by these incentive programs,” Duncan said.