Race to the Top and competition

What lesson can we draw from the federal Race-to-the-Top fund? Evelyn Stacey of the Pacific Research Institute says that it’s that competition matters:

Race to the Top concedes that competition is a valid principle in education. After all, in this “race” the federal government urges the states to compete for money by implementing various reforms. The same principle of competition being endorsed by President Obama and Secretary of Education Duncan has been advocated by school-choice supporters for years.

Now, you can argue that RTTP imperils state and local control of education, and I do agree that there’s too much centralization in education as it is. But give the federal government its due in this case: Many of the reforms envisioned by RTTP, such as tying at least a portion of teacher pay to student performance, are worthwhile. It’s unfortunate that states don’t implement these reforms on their own.

Kansas has pointedly decided to sit out of the second round of the RTTP competition. From the point of view of federal-state relations, that’s not a bad idea. But Kansans should implement some of the RTTP reforms.

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