This week, the Department of Education announced the next iteration of Race to the Top, this time with a special focus on preschool and early childhood programs. Called the “Early Learning Challenge,” states will again be able to compete for some of their own tax dollars back to spend on programs they’ve designed for 3- and 4-year-old children.
This time, though, a few states (besides Texas) are stepping back from the mousetrap and signalling their wariness of the control attached to federal dollars. Four states among the nine runners-up have new governors: Colorado, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and California.
South Carolina State Superintendent Mick Zais offered a strong statement explaining why his state would not join the race. “The Race to the Top program expands the federal role in education by offering pieces of silver in exchange for strings attached to Washington,” he said in a May 25 statement. “The previous two rounds of Race to the Top were not competitive grant programs; they were top-down directives forcing states to adopt programs favored by Washington.”
On the heels of a recent bold statement of prominent educators and analysts against the national curriculum de facto national standards will cause, it looks like America’s anti-federalist tradition is again popping up in education reform after a long hiatus.
(Image by Mortimer62.)