March 29, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On the ‘Race to the Top’ Grant Awards
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan today announced two winners in the first round of the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” federal grant competition program.
WASHINGTON—We congratulate Delaware and Tennessee on being selected to receive the first Race to the Top grants. The Education Department indicates that both states sought and listened to input from local school districts and teachers through their unions. This collaborative approach is essential to the success of the programs these federal funds will support – without teacher buy-in, reforms have little chance of taking root for long-term success.
We are disappointed that no state with large urban centers was among today’s grant recipients. Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania are all states with urban school districts whose Race to the Top applications were developed in concert with teachers and their unions.
Such collaboration is one of the values endorsed by Race to the Top, and it is a principle that must be carried forward as the winning proposals are implemented. And as the June 1 deadline for the second round of applications approaches, we hope that every state applying or reapplying will take steps to ensure that teachers’ input and participation become an integral part of their proposals.
The Education Department has recognized both in regulations and in public statements the crucial need for labor-management cooperation to make reforms work. It is worth noting that states where such collaboration did not exist are not among today’s Race to the Top winners.
We continue to believe that providing for the education of America’s children—especially disadvantaged kids in struggling school districts—should not be a contest among states and, consequently, their students.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.