Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 - 6:01
Friday, July 23, 2010 - 17:56
With policy makers deciding on the best way to utilize stimulus dollars for education, here's some commentary on the two significant options; as well as a point of our own.
There are lots of ways to skin a cat (an image we’ve always thought to be a bit gory). In the case of stimulus dollars going to education funding there are at least two strategies under consideration. One is to keep the Race to the Top program intact, as currently structured. The other – a Congressional proposal – would reallocate $500 million in Race to the Top funds to the Education Jobs Fund.
Which makes better sense? We’ve discovered two recent analyses that help shed light on the matter.
Michele McNeil kicked off the discussion in an Ed Week column, writing:
States that have no chance of winning a Race to the Top grant in Round 2 would be better off if the edujobs bill passes, from a purely fiscal standpoint. So would states that are sure-fire bets to win in Round 2. (But is there such thing as a sure thing?) States that would not be better off with edujobs are those that would rank near the cutoff point for the Round 2 winner's circle, since a loss of $500 million from the $3.4 billion left in Race to the Top could mean that one or two otherwise winning states could become losers. In most cases, states' Race to the Top grants would be larger than their edujobs allocations…
The New America Foundation’s Ed Money Watch blog digs deeper into the numbers, detailing what the impact might be for all 50 states, plus DC and Puerto Rico. Jennifer Cohen, author of the piece, finds that the swing could be substantial for some states. For example, North Carolina could miss out on more than $100 million if the Education Jobs bill passes.
If you take a deeper look, you’ll find these commentaries pretty interesting. But we’d like to toss out an additional factors that we think is critical in the edujobs vs. Race to the Top debate.
As the Ed Money Watch piece notes, Race to the Top funds must be directed toward rigorous reform activities. On the other hand, the Education Jobs Fund monies will be used to pay for salaries and benefits for teachers and other personnel, without those reform strictures. In other words, the two sets of funds could have vastly different educational consequences. Those divergent outcomes, we’d argue, should be central to the debate.