The state of Minnesota has received a clear message from the U.S. Department of Education: The same old, same old is not good enough and will not be rewarded.
This bit of tough love stems from the federal stimulus package of 2009. It included massive fresh funding for education grants, and these are going to be given out through the Race to the Top program.
Forty-one states applied, with just two - Delaware and Tennessee - winning first-round grants. The money they will receive is meant to spur innovative programs and increase student achievement.
Federal education officials told Minnesota, which finished 20th of the 41 states that applied, that it needs to do more. Namely, get teacher unions on board and get more experts into the classroom, regardless of whether they have teaching degrees. Minnesota stands to gain - or lose - $250 million.
What is most exciting is that this clear message is coming from a Democratic administration. Democrats typically benefit from teacher union support, but it seems clear that Education Secretary Arne Duncan ... has an agenda that doesn't include pandering to the unions. He and his boss - President Obama - deserve credit for their courage in trying to transform an often dismal public education system.
- Fairmont Sentinel
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.