Illinois Fails to Latch onto Federal Money
Illinois failed to win $400 million in the federal "Race to the Top" competition.
In addition to the District of Columbia, the U.S. Education Department named nine states to win the grant money, including Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. They will receive a portion of the $3.4 billion left in round two of the federal education funding.
The state has paid out $529 million to the Illinois State Board of Education, but still owes an additional $770 million. Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch said he does not know if the Illinois' budget woes hurt its chances at being awarded the grant money.
"We were definitely interested in getting these funds," he said. "We believed that Illinois had moved far enough to be competitive nationally."
This was Illinois' second time as a finalist in the competition. University of Illinois education professor Debra Bragg was part of a committee that helped prepare the state's application for the grant.
"There was a very extensive proposal writing activity that the state engaged in," said Bragg. "It felt that we had put together a very strong and even better proposal than the first one."
Koch said he thinks Illinois fell short in its proposal to use incentives to bring highly-qualified teachers and administrators to low-performing schools. He said he plans to use other federal and state grants to develop new models that prepare educators, evaluate students, and allow districts to share software and resources across the Internet.
(Photo courtesy: House of Sims/Flickr)