Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Alabama applies for Race to the Top funds


In July 2009, President Barack Obama announced that states setting an example on school reform would be eligible to compete for $4.35 billion in his Race to the Top program’s competitive grants. The grants will be available to all states supporting education reform and willing to adopt nationwide curriculum standards.

The Alabama Department of Education submitted a 157-page application in late January and asked for $180 million in funding.

Deputy State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said that if Alabama were to be selected for the grant, they would divide the money based on four distinct criteria.

“Alabama would use the funds to move forward,” Bice said. “We would establish a new generation of assessments that mirror other countries, track students progress from kindergarten through college to measure educational entities, put our very best teachers with the students that need them the most, and turn around our lowest achieving schools by equipping them, and all schools, with the technologies to help make students think critically.”

Gov. Bob Riley said in a news release that the state’s chances at winning are good, but would be better if legislators approved the proposed bill to allow the creation of charter schools in Alabama.

However, the House Education Appropriations Committee voted 13-2 Wednesday to postpone a bill proposed to allow the creation of charter schools. The decision means the bill will probably not be voted on again in the current session.

Alabama is one of 10 states that do not have charter schools – schools that receive public money but have been freed from some of the regulations that apply to public schools in exchange for the promise to produce desired results.

Some, including the Alabama Education Association, oppose the charter school bill.

“While we are in support of the application which the state department submitted for the Race to the Top program, we feel that legislation allowing charter schools to exist is not needed to receive the funds from the program,” said Pamela Fossett, director of the education policy and professional practice division at the AEA.

The state lost 40 points on its grant application because of its lack of such schools. Riley is pushing for the establishment of charter schools, but said the state would not spend any of the grant money to create them.

Obama’s program will help school systems nationwide prepare students for success in both college and the workplace, help recruit and retain effective teachers, inform educators about how they can improve their teaching styles and help incorporate new teaching methods in place of those that are proven to not work.

According to numbers released by program staffers, 40 states and the District of Columbia have already applied for the education grant. States not selected to receive money after their first application can change laws where necessary, advance their reforms and submit a second application.

Federal officials will notify states in April of decisions, with funds going out early next year.

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