Hawaii outpaced in initial round of 'Race to the Top' school funding


POSTED: Friday, March 05, 2010

Hawaii fell short in its first bid for federal funds in the “;Race to the Top”; competition, a $4 billion effort to improve schools across the nation, but is gearing up to try again in the second round.

“;While we're disappointed, I don't think we're surprised,”; Interim Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said yesterday. “;We are going to take a look at the comments when we receive them from the federal government and use those to make our round-two application stronger.”;

“;Whether we get the Race to the Top funds or not,”; she added, “;we really are focused on reforms that will move the schools forward.”;

Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced yesterday that 15 states and the District of Columbia had been chosen as finalists out of 41 applicants in the first phase of the competition. He said that “;very few”; of them would be named as winners in April. At least half of the $4 billion will be reserved for the second phase of the competition, with applications due in June, he said.

;[Preview]  Hawaii misses out on federal funds

Hawaii found out today it is not among the 16 finalists for federal “;Race to the Top”; Funds.


Watch ]





“;I said from the beginning that we were going to set a very high bar in this competition and we would only reward excellence,”; Duncan said. “;This program has been a catalyst for education reform across the country, prompting states to think deeply about how we prepare our students for success.”;

The finalists in the first phase are Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Many observers considered Hawaii a long shot, given its decision to shut down public schools for 17 Furlough Fridays this academic year and another 17 next year because of the budget shortfall. Duncan had decried the move to slice the school year by nearly 10 percent as “;mind-boggling”; and predicted at one point that the state would face “;a heck of a challenge”; in the Race to the Top competition.

Each state's application was judged on a point scale, based on criteria such as developing college- and career-ready standards, turning around low-performing schools and building a work force of highly effective educators. Points were also awarded for making education funding a priority, but there was no requirement for a minimum school year or day.

“;We all know that it will affect student achievement, so we want to get the furloughs resolved regardless of whether it's a Race to the Top criteria or not,”; Linda Smith, senior policy adviser to the governor, told reporters yesterday.

Lingle added in a written statement, “;During the next two months Hawaii will need to demonstrate we are serious about meeting the criteria set forth in the Race to the Top application,”; such as performance-based evaluations for teachers and principals and eliminating barriers to the growth of charter schools.

All states will receive feedback on their applications. Finalists will go to Washington, D.C., to defend their proposals, and the administration plans to videotape those presentations so states can learn from each other.

“;The demand for this funding far exceeds the supply,”; Duncan said. “;Our hope is that these bold blueprints for education reform will all be implemented over time. We expect the winners to lead the way and blaze the path for future school reform for years and even decades to come.”;

President Barack Obama also has proposed a third round of funding for “;Race to the Top”; in the 2011 budget.


Star-Bulletin staff writer B.J. Reyes contributed to this report.