Countdown Clock to RTTT Deadline: 40 Days

On June 1st, Race To The Top applications are due for states trying for the second round of the federal competition for stimulus funds. After Tennessee and Delaware’s victories in the first round, state education departments have a better idea of what Arne Duncan and his board of reviewers (secret identities revealed here!) are looking for. One obvious criterion: teacher union buy-in, a fact that has raised questions among education reformers concerned that states will weaken proposals to solicit signatures from local associations.

A new trend – perhaps unexpected from the feds – is that states are starting to drop out altogether. Kansas is throwing in the towel, and state associations in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Indiana have announced that they will refuse to participate, an effective death knell. New York’s chances look unlikely. All these states placed above us in the first round.

The NJ DOE is strangely silent, but who can blame them? What are the odds of NJEA’s leadership reversing course from our first try and instructing local presidents to sign off on our next application? Pretty slim. On the other hand, what better way for NJEA to resuscitate its image than to join with the DOE, local school boards, and superintendents in solidarity for improving public education? The rotten tomatoes aimed right at union leader heads would be replaced by roses as all applaud NJEA’s progressive determination to improve our schools.

If NJEA’s leadership maintains its strategy of nay-saying, all local associations will bear the brunt of continued assault. A Race To The Top “yes” can turn that rotten ship around.

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