Lessons for the next round of Race to the Top?

For states that came away empty-handed from last week’s Race to the Top competition, there was bound to be disappointment. But now some skepticism has also emerged with the announcement that only Delaware and Tennessee would get money from the $4.35-billion grant program, beating out 14 other finalists.

The New York Times noted that “many states are questioning the criteria by which winners were chosen,” and reporting that several have yet to decide if they will reapply for the second round. So why would cash-strapped states refuse potential money at a time when they may be laying off teachers and making other unpopular budget cuts?  A quote from Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter helped sum up what is happening in that state — a preference for local control: “Many tiny school districts don’t like federal mandates,” he told the Times.

The Washington Post had another take on the winners, providing insight about who will remain in the next round — when another $3 billion is available — and noting that states with plenty of teacher union support come out ahead. And others have noted that charter school caps remain an obstacle.

— Liz Willen