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Teacher Evaluations - RTTT
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Teacher Evaluations & Race To The Top

The federal role in education has never been clearly defined and has been debated passionately the last fifty or so years by stakeholders. "No Child Left Behind [NCLB] and the Race to the Top [RTTT] grants are likely to be the high water mark of federal involvement in schools,” says Jay Mathews in a Washington Post editorial in September 2011. Matthews also believed the Obama Administration’s further overreach into national standards will fail. His logic? Washington simply cannot afford to get any more deeply involved in local schools. And economics of late may well prove him accurate.

While we understand the money which Tennessee garners under RTTT is and was appealing, as well as the opportunity to fundamentally change business as usual by the controlling interest of the teachers union and other special interest groups, the question remains: will RTTT, which was supported by the Tennessee Education Association, prove a bit disruptive for teachers and administrators alike? Will some good teachers simply walk away from Tennessee classrooms if changes are not made? Is there a more cost efficient way to reach the same objectives and continue beyond RTTT funding?

As Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation pointed out, "embedded in debates about the future of NCLB, and already entangled with RTTT, is the Obama Administration’s push for national standards and tests—an unprecedented federal overreach.” Among their many flaws (standardization of mediocrity, entanglement with federal funds, and a disregard for state educational sovereignty) is the tremendous price tag associated with the push. Matthews cites the University of Arkansas’s Jay Greene: "To make standards meaningful they have to be integrated with changes in curriculum, assessment and pedagogy,” [Greene] says. ‘Changing all of that will take a ton of money.’ The states don’t have it. The federal government can’t supply it at a time of budget-cutting. Even the Gates Foundation, Greene says, can’t foot such a large bill.”

Now it could be argued that the state could look at additional revenue sources like taxing entities such as 501c4's or 501c5's, and specifically earmark those funds for a continuation of some of the activities needed to advance public education in the state. There is no reason why the state of Tennessee has not tapped this resource previously, and earmarking it for the benefit of continuing some needed education reforms specifically makes for good policy.


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