RTTT… Yawn

The Race to the Top finalist states were announced today.  15 states are in the hunt for some portion of $2.3 billion, which is less than one-half of a percent of annual K-12 education spending.  It is rounding error.

The contest may shape state and local education policy debates where something might actually happen, but no one should be fooled into thinking that this money is going to have any significant, direct effect.

But it will certainly keep the chattering class busy with excitement.  My reaction is… Yawn.


12 Responses to RTTT… Yawn

  1. matthewladner says:

    Smarick is disappointed:


    Your prediction about spreading around the money like peanut butter on bread looks dead on.

  2. […] this from Jay Greene The Race to the Top finalist states were announced today.  15 states are in the hunt for some […]

  3. Daniel Earley says:

    It’s not too often that I’m reminded of the lofty criteria for granting Most Favored Nation status to China, but alas….

  4. concerned says:

    A rounding error that may affect state laws for many years to come.

  5. I wouldn’t bet on that, Concerned. Kentucky didn’t change their laws to allow charter schools and it is a finalist. New York didn’t change their laws to allow test scores in teacher evaluations and it is a finalit. California did change their law on use of testing in evaluations, but it is not a finalist.

  6. Greg Forster says:

    But some states did change their laws, yes? Since when does Jay Greene consider it an argument that something had no effect because it failed to have a larger effect?

    And if the amount of money is so small, shouldn’t that count as a plus? I mean, measure this in terms of impact divided by dollars.

    • PhilLombardo says:

      Yes, changed their laws for the worst. Anyone with experience in a classroom or the testing field will gladly tell you the detrimental effect accountability testing has on students.

  7. Some states changed their laws this past year but some states changed their laws the year before that and each year before that.

    I concede that RTTT has changed the acceptable terms of state and local debates and may indirectly lead to the adoption of some important reforms. But I think there is much less here than people think.

  8. Greg Forster says:

    Fair enough!

    I guess the real question is whether Obama/Duncan (Obuncan?) decide they want to RTTT-ize a much larger portion of DOE spending next year. That’s one of the rumors we’ve heard. If they do, this year’s RTTT will be seen in retrospect as a successful pilot.

  9. We had better hope they don’t RTTT-ize more of the budget next year. Just think of the opportunities for political patronage. It’s bad enough how they are rewarding political allies (e.g. NY, IL, OH) now with a small sum. Formula funding has the virtue of being relatively politically neutral.

  10. Greg Forster says:

    Who writes the formulas? 🙂

  11. I’m with you: yawn. Nothing will change. States are playacting to the get the money.

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