Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Race To The Top fraud

While Arne Duncan, Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich tour the talk shows and the country pushing president Obama's education initiative Race To The Top - which focuses on creating more failed charter schools and inferior teacher training - the liberal Economic Policy Institute did an in-depth analysis of the applications to the US Department of Education and the awarding of $600 million in the first round of funding  (which went to Delaware and Tennessee).

Some states are so traumatized by their non-selection that they are desperately trying to find out what went wrong - and going so far - as Tim Pawlenty is doing in Minnesota - of seeking to change state law to have a better chance of winning funding in the second round of grants, due in June. But what would that change look like?

According to EPI the change that would be needed is unknown, because the US Department of Education didn't really follow ANY criteria in the awarding of the first round grants - and that, in effect, the winning states were chosen arbitrarily:
The 500-point system has six major categories, seven general categories, and various subcategories. By assigning numbers to each one, “the Department implies it has a testable theory or empirical data to back up its quantitative method.”

But it doesn’t have either, and, therefore, assigned the numbers subjectively.

“Further examination suggests that the selection of Delaware and Tennessee was subjective and arbitrary, more a matter of bias or chance than a result of these states’ superior compliance with reform policies,” it said.
And, it said: “The necessary subjective judgments required both for category selection and weight assignment makes a fair competition practically impossible, even if the competition is undertaken with great care.”
We might have guessed that, given the people pushing the policy - but now we know for sure. How many ways does Barack Obama have to prove that he wants to destroy the movement he rode in on?

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that, according to MPR, Minnesota's application for Race funds was outsourced to McKinsey and Company, and that the state only paid $100,000 of the $500,000 fee, the rest coming from the Gates, Bush and Minneapolis Foundations. Ironically the state's portion was paid out of federal stimulus funds.

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