Race To The Top

Since 2008, the federal takeover of education has accelerated dramatically with the advent of President Obama’s Race to the Top program.   That program foisted a set of national academic standards upon the states.  Unfortunately, those standards suffer from severe academic deficiencies and their implementation diminishes parenthood, imposes a fiscal burden on the states, and establishes a governance precedent that is irreconcilable with our Founding.  It is a federal takeover that will affect public school, private school, and home school children.

Here’s how the program developed:

  • From 2008 through 2010, the Gates Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided $35 million to a consortium of two non-government trade associations (the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers) for purposes of developing and implementing a new education system in the United States.  They called this the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) and published the plan in December 2008.
  • In February 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Stimulus Bill) into law, which designated a $4.35 billion “executive earmark” for the Department of Education. In other words, the Department of Education received the money with no strings attached.
  • The federal Department of Education used the Executive Earmark to create and fund the Race to the Top (RTTT) program, a federal grant competition that invited the cash-strapped states to compete for the Stimulus money.  But, under the Department’s competition scheme, states had to “commit” to adopting common standards.  Commitment meant:
    • Gubernatorial and bureaucratic pledges lacked any measure of consent or review by the people or their elected representatives in the legislatures.
    • The states had to make their commitments within two months after publication of the standards, a time frame far too short for proper and thorough review and deliberation.
    • Most of the state legislatures were not even in session during the “commitment” time period.
    • The Governors and bureaucrats of the cash-starved states rolled over for the administration with only Governors Palin of Alaska and Perry of Texas initially refusing to commit.
    • Forty-two states made a commitment, but under the federally-imposed definition of “commitment,” not a single state legislature approved of it.
    • In April 2011, House Majority Leader, U.S. Rep. John Boehner, included $700 million in a new RTTT earmark for the Department of Education in the budget compromise with President Obama.