The rules are changing in regards to the federal dollars available for local districts. An example of a federal program and the mechanism for receiving these dollars would be Title I. Title I is an entitlement grant – meaning that if you follow the rules, you get the money. The amount of Title I dollars available in each district is determined by the number of students who receive free and reduced lunch support. Access to these dollars requires following all of the Title I regulations articulated in No Child Left Behind.
As a part of the stimulus program, the federal government is expanding the amount of money available to states for public education. Massachusetts could qualify for up to $250 M additional federal dollars. The mechanism for distributing these dollars is through a newly established, competitive mechanism called the Race to the Top Grants. Unlike entitlement grants, these dollars have to be rewarded. In other words, the federal government is looking for certain policies, practices, and student performance in local districts and states before opening their coffers.
Specifically, Massachusetts has to submit a state RTTT grant in order to qualify for the money and then local districts need to apply to the state for their share. These plans need to include policies and practices like expanding charter schools and linking teacher/principal evaluation to student performance. These two examples will be difficult to implement in Massachusetts so I am reserving judgement as to the benefit of jumping into the race for RTTT funds – even if Massachusetts is awarded the full competitive federal grant amount.
Attached are a power point and public document released from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding the Race to the Top Grants. I will share more details as I receive them.
RTTTpubliccomment (power point)
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is looking for public comment on their proposals framed around the questions at the end of their power point. All comments are due prior to January 4, 2010 to firstname.lastname@example.org.