Posted on January 5, 2011
2010: Race to the Top and Education Reform
PND -- 2010: Race to the Top and Education Reform
The battle over healthcare reform early in the year and then the
buildup to the midterm elections overshadowed one of the Obama
administration's more ambitious goals in 2010: furthering efforts
to reform America's struggling public education system.
Headed by former Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan, the U.S. Department of Education kicked off the year with two major announcements: a $250 million public-private expansion of the Educate to Innovate program, which aims to boost learning and achievement in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields; and, a few weeks later, a proposed $1.35 billion expansion of its signature Race to the Top program, a comprehensive effort, backed by a $4.35 billion investment, "to incentivize excellence, spur reform, and promote the adoption and use of effective policies and practices" in the nation's public school systems. In March, sixteen finalists from a pool of forty-six states and the District of Columbia were announced in the first round of the competition, followed, a few weeks later, by an announcement of the first two states to receive grants: Delaware ($100 million) and Tennessee ($500 million).
Those announcements were followed, in August, by news that grants totaling more than $3.2 billion had been awarded to an additional nine states — Florida ($700 million), New York ($700 million), Georgia ($400 million), Maryland ($400 million), North Carolina ($400 million), Ohio ($400 million), Massachusetts ($250 million), Hawaii ($75 million), and Rhode Island ($75 million) — as well as Washington, D.C. ($75 million), leading Duncan to declare the first year of the program a success. Meanwhile, an issue brief published by the Foundation Center in June as part of the Foundations for Education Excellence initiative argued that the future
success of Race to the Top would depend, in no small measure, on
the federal government's willingness to include private grantmakers in the development of education reform policies and on
grantmakers committing to being engaged, long-term partners in
Indeed, by then a coalition of private foundations had already
announced its intention to invest up to half a billion dollars
in education reform efforts, with some of that money designated
to match funds from the Department of Education's $650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund, which provides grants to local
agencies, nonprofits, and school districts with a demonstrated
record of improving student achievement, reducing dropout rates,
increasing high school graduation rates, and/or increasing college enrollment and completion rates. The foundations involved in the effort —
the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Lumina, Casey, Gates, Mott, Ford, MacArthur, and Kellogg foundations — also joined forces to create the Foundation Registry i3, an Internet portal where education reform groups can apply for matching funds from coalition partners in a single step.
"Much of what Secretary Duncan is currently addressing at the department builds on existing foundation investments in education," said Carnegie Corporation president Vartan Gregorian. "As such, the twelve foundations realized this is a significant moment to seriously advance student learning so that all of our young people are prepared to succeed in a global economy and for citizenship in a complex world. It was time to maximize our collective efforts."
No review of the year in education philanthropy would be complete without mention of Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, two of America's most successful technologists and respected "philanthrocapitalists."
In September, the 26-year-old Zuckerberg, the nation's youngest billionaire, announced a $100 million matching gift to establish a foundation dedicated to supporting reform efforts in Newark, New Jersey's long-troubled public school system, while Gates, the country's wealthiest individual, continued, largely through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to be a major supporter of education reform at the elementary, secondary, and higher education levels.
Indeed, as the year came to a close, Gates, in remarks to the Council of Chief State School Officers, called on the nation's state education superintendents to take the difficult steps
needed to restructure their public education budgets, which
have been battered by the economic downturn. "Our best chance
to change budgets starts now," Gates told those in attendance.
"Your appropriations committees will see the state school budgets and ask you to show them an easy way out. I think you can
tell them — 'there is a way out, but it's not easy'. You can
lead this change, but you can't be expected to do it alone.
You'll need friends in business and philanthropy to stand with
you. You can count on me....The design of our schools, the way
we teach, the way we budget — has kept so much human energy
locked up inside. Let's unleash it."
White House Launches $250 Million Public-Private STEM Initiative (1/7/10)
Obama Proposes $1.35 Billion Expansion to Race to the Top Fund (1/20/10)
Gates Foundation Announces $19.5 Million in Grants for Next-Generation Teaching Tools in Math and Literacy (2/19/10)
Department of Education Announces Sixteen 'Race to the Top' Finalists (3/8/10)
Department of Education Announces First Race to the Top Grants (3/31/10)
W.K. Kellogg Foundation Awards $1.4 Million to Rural School and Community Trust (4/3/10)
Gates Foundation Commits $110 Million to Transform Remedial Education (4/21/10)
Coalition of Foundations to Invest $506 Million in Education Innovation (4/30/10)
Race to Top Offers Lessons for Grantmaker-Government Collaborations, Brief Finds (6/2/10)
Department of Education Announces Round Two Race to the Top Finalists (7/29/10)
Department of Education Chooses Forty-Nine Investing in Innovation Fund Finalists (8/6/10)
Department of Education Announces Ten More Race to the Top Winners (8/25/10)
Investing in Innovation Winners Have Secured Matching Funds (9/22/10)
Facebook Founder Commits $100 Million to Support Newark Public Schools (9/24/10)
Newark Mayor Secures $40 Million to Match Zuckerberg Gift (9/28/10)
Charter School Group Fund Launches $160 Million Campaign (10/01/10)