From The Dallas Morning News:
WASHINGTON – Texas school districts may be able to bypass Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to not compete for up to $700 million in federal education funds, under a plan announced Tuesday by President Barack Obama.
The president highlighted his disappointment with Perry’s move as he outlined an expansion of the Race to the Top program that would allow school districts to apply directly for grants.
Race to the Top offers grants to entice districts to raise standards, use data to track student progress and develop creative ways to turn around failing schools. Forty states and the District of Columbia applied for slices of the $4.35 billion pool during the first round of bids.
Perry withdrew Texas from the competition – and the shot at up to $700 million – last week, saying he was doing so “in the interest of preserving our state sovereignty over matters concerning education.”
In a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Perry expressed concerns about the cost of implementing national standards and the effect of such standards on the curriculum already in place.
“It is a loss for the children of his state,” Duncan said. “I happen to know there are some phenomenal educators that are doing a great job in Texas that don’t have a chance to bring resources to their districts.”
The Obama administration’s $1.35 billion extension of Race to the Top could change that. If the program is approved by Congress, it will probably be another year before school districts can apply directly for funds, Duncan said, and the requirements for receiving grants have yet to be determined.
At a news conference in San Antonio, Perry said the expansion was evidence of the federal government “further interfering in state and local affairs and betraying their clear disdain for our rights.”
“I will say this very slow so they will understand it in Washington, D.C.: Texas will fight any attempt by the federal government to take over our school system,” Perry said.
Batshit Batman! 😯
Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said that districts would be “foolish” to apply for the funds and that Obama’s statement disregarded many efforts already under way.
But many Texas school districts would be “grateful for the opportunity to apply,” said Jackie Lain, associate director of the Texas Association of School Boards.
The Dallas Independent School District is among them. Spokesman Jon Dahlander said the district would be “very interested” in competing for Race to the Top awards, as long as there are not too many requirements.