March 26, 2010

RI Waits for Doesn't Win Race to the Top decision and doesn't receive School Improvement Grant

Marc Comtois

The Department of Education has announced* the winners of the first round of Race to the Top School Improvement Grants (SIG) and the Rhode Island didn't make the cut. Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington were the winners. For those who tied the Central Falls firings to RI getting the SIGs, I guess the move hasn't paid off yet. As for the Race to the Top grants, David Scharfenberg at N4N reported earlier that RI Ed. Commish Deborah Gist wasn't optimistic:

Education Commissioner Deborah Gist told a group of civic leaders yesterday at a meeting attended by N4N that it is "highly unlikely" that Rhode Island will win a multi-million dollar infusion from the federal government in the first round of President Obama's Race to the Top grant-making.

The comments, made before community leadership development organization Leadership Rhode Island, marks a significant shift in tone for Gist, who has been relentlessly optimistic about the state's application for more than $100 million in federal aid to push through sweeping reform.

The Department of Education will anounce Race to the Top winners on Monday, March 29th.

*CORRECTED version-thanks commenters- Nothing like multi-tracked grant programs and gov't bureaucracy to confuse the layperson! But most of the blame goes to yours truly for jumpin' the gun.

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(disclaimer: I know nothing about this topic)

Why are our federal tax dollars being used as a carrot on the end of a stick with only some benefiting from money that all taxpayers have paid? The federal government should be paying down our debt rather than hosting contests.

Posted by: michael at March 26, 2010 4:23 PM

Those states won School Improvement Grants, another stimulus-funded education program. Race to the Top winners won't be announced until Monday.

Posted by: Ted Nesi at March 26, 2010 4:35 PM

First round of Race to the Top winners will be announced on March 29th. As stated above, the states mentioned are receiving money from the SIG program.

Posted by: steadman at March 26, 2010 4:49 PM


Is it any surprise RI Commissioner Deborah Gist is now trying to downplay RI's possible selection out of the 16 state finalist list for "Race to the Top". Winners will be announced in April.

RI is up against 15 other states that have pretty much all their standards in place, educator certification process and a host of other educational processes turning out some fine high performing students.

In typical RI fashion once it's realized federal money is involved State of RI Department of
Education and Education Commissioner Deborah Gist tried to rewrite existing standards and get approvals from the unions to try and make RI fit the basic requirements with a lot of fanfare and local news coverage. OOOPS! It didn't work! The old RIDE smoke and mirrors trick again.

RIDE has a long history of starting an educational program and then dropping a program in favor of new programs so they can always be on the cutting edge of education. Only problem is most of the programs last 1 year or half year before they are changed leaving the teachers and principals shaking their heads and wondering what's next because that also means rewriting the standards.

As for the school funding Central Falls under the new funding plan was to lose $11 million. Way to go Commissioner Deborah Gist! That's the way to fix school problems, fire all the high school teachers and administrators and cut funding.

RI and Central Falls are not alone anymore, 200 teachers and administrators are being fired at the "Beach High School" in the Savannah-Chatham County school district in Georgia under the No Child Left Behind federal law which will make the school eligible for up to $6 million in federal money.

This really makes a lot of sense, in order to get federal funds you fire the whole staff because the individual children are failing tests. Would somebody please explain to me how can 200 individual school teachers and administrators be collectively educating that badly?

In Central Falls case we already know the problem but so far that I know only one person has the guts to admit it and I will leave that person nameless to protect their job. A RIDE employee indicated it is not the Central Falls Teacher's fault but RIDE for not providing consistent direction to the schools, administrators and teachers. State of RIDE took over the Central Falls school district. Over the last 15 years there have been 27 administrators at Central Falls High School.

Posted by: Ken at March 26, 2010 5:41 PM

<<< Would somebody please explain to me how can 200 individual school teachers and administrators be collectively educating that badly? >>>

Sure, just ask a public union thug about their pay and benefits. The students are just their bargaining chip and every problem can be solved with more money.

Then go walk-thru a charter school.

Posted by: dave at March 27, 2010 8:23 AM


Your comment makes no sense except to be union bashing.

You fail to realize the teacher may belong to a union but the administrators are normally non-union as well as the fact that the state or county education department and not the union dictates how education and the programs are to be administered in the schools.

With NCLB requiring standards based education all teachers have to teach to the standards that the local education department develops. Gone are the days when you could point directly at an individual teacher's created curriculum for reason of class failure.

Also in the newspaper article it is pointed out by firing all 200 teachers and administrators the county stands to gain $6 million in federal funding.

No matter what state or what school district you visit there will always be one school performing poorly!

Posted by: Ken at March 27, 2010 8:41 PM
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