Ohio Will Apply For Federal "Race To The Top" Funds

President Barak Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the draft applications for the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” funds on Friday, July 24.

“This competition will not be based on politics, ideology, or the preferences of a particular interest group,” stated President Obama in a speech delivered at the U.S. Department of Education headquarters in Washington.

“Instead, it will be based on a simple principle-whether a state is ready to do what works. We will use the best data available to determine whether a state can meet a few key benchmarks for reform-and states that outperform the rest will be rewarded with a grant. Not every state will win and not every school district will be happy with the results,” continued Obama.

“The $4.35 billion Race to the Top program that we are unveiling today is a challenge to states and districts. We’re looking to drive reform, reward excellence and dramatically improve our nation’s schools,” remarked Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Meant to drive innovation and reform in education across the nation, the multi-billion dollar segment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has garnered press and speculation since its announcement earlier this year.

The Race to the Top fund highlights four key areas of education reform. They include:

  • Adopting internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace;
  • Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals;
  • Building data systems that measure student success and inform teachers and principals how they can improve their practices; and
  • Turning around our lowest-performing schools.

Governor Ted Strickland’s office confirmed Friday afternoon that Ohio will be one of the states applying for the federal education stimulus money.

“We will be applying for these funds,” stated Strickland spokesperson Amanda Wurst in an e-mail.

Secretary Duncan will determine which states receive grants and the amounts involved on a discretionary basis. Schools and school districts in a state that is selected to receive a grant must “receive at least 50 percent of the monies based on Title I-A shares for the most recent year”, according to the Ohio Department of Education’s website.

Applications for the fund will start being accepted from states this fall, and grants will begin to be distributed early next year. A second round of applications will be due in June of 2010 with the final awards distributed in September.