The Corner

A ‘Race to the Top’ Flop

The Obama administration prides itself on having the courage to stand up to the teachers’ unions — a pride that’s sometimes warranted. But not today.

In leaving Colorado and Louisiana out of the “Race to the Top” winners’ circle, it has opted for union peace rather than meaningful reform of our schools. These two states have been trailblazers in education reform in recent years, and boast two of the most reform-friendly cities in the country. But they have another thing in common: fierce union opposition to their bold initiatives to hold teachers accountable for student performance. The peer reviewers engaged by the U.S. Department of Education to grade states’ reform-mindedness inexplicably ranked Martin O’Malley’s Maryland and Ted Strickland’s Ohio over Colorado and Louisiana. Secretary Arne Duncan could have reversed that decision, but would have enraged the administration’s union allies in doing so. (And we hear there’s an election coming up.) So he took the path of least resistance. In the sprint to the finish, it was a big fat flop. Unions 1, kids 0.

For more commentary, see the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog.

Michael J. Petrilli is vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington-based education-policy think tank.

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