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Race to the Top: Billions in Education Funding At Stake (page 2)

Race to the Top: Billions in Education Funding At Stake

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Updated on Sep 21, 2009

Maybe you won't get a personal call from Secretary Duncan, but Weingarten and education officials around the country said every state is in the process of getting ideas for their Race to the Top application. Parents, teachers and school administrators can push ideas for reform-minded programs on the local and state level, and those ideas could end up in a state's application for a Race to the Top grant.

North Carolina's Superintendent of Public Instruction June St. Clair Atkinson said parents are part of the process in her state: "I think parents must be integral to looking at ways public education must transform itself, and parents can be the biggest advocates for change and parents can help in determining what will work for children. So I think it's important for parents to be our partners."

Many states are inviting public comment through a variety of different methods. Florida has put together an e-mail comment system, town hall meetings have been scheduled in Iowa, and parents and others in Colorado can join a public committee or submit a letter with suggestions for consideration by officials putting together that state's application.

The point, says Weingarten and others, is that parents are crucial in the education process, as are teachers and school administrators. Their voices should always be heard. But don't just get involved in Race to the Top to try to help your state win a piece of the $4.35 billion pie.

"I also encourage parents to be involved in every aspect of their children's education," Weingarten said. "They are our conscience and our checks and balances. We need parents as our partners. When parents are engaged and involve, then we start becoming more transparent and more accountable and we start talking in English and not education-see."

U.S. Department of Education officials are excited about the possibilities of Race to the Top, of innovative programs that are created from a single state's application that, if successful, can be replicated across the country.

"This is not just mild reform," said Department of Education spokesman Justin Hamilton, borrowing a phrase from President Obama. "This is education's moon shot."

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