Back in 2010, when we were 'racing to the top.'
Chicago's Mayor Daley got 'pissed' at Arne Duncan
Back in 2010, Arne Duncan was Obama’s Secretary of Education, and Race to the Top was the school reform soup-du-jour. RTTT was a $4.35 billion DOE competitive grant supposedly created to drive and reward “innovation and reforms” in state and local district K–12 education. Funded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, it became a powerful lever for imposing corporate-style reform on school districts.
States competing for the grants were awarded points for enacting DOE-prescribed educational policies like — instituting evaluations for teachers and principals based mainly on students’ standardized test scores, closing thousands of “failing” public schools and replacing them with privately-run charters.
These were all reform policies that Duncan had imposed on Chicago’s public schools during his term as Mayor Daley’s hand-picked schools CEO. Then it was called Renaissance 2010.
Everyone thought Chicago’s cash-strapped, heavily in-debt school system would be near the front of the line when it came to getting a chunk of the RTTT money since Duncan was the sole decider and his successor, Ron Huberman had been faithfully implementing Duncan’s reform policies.
But for whatever reason, it was not to be. Duncan not only didn’t approve Chicago’s grant application, he never even allowed the district to present its proposal. At the time, I thought it was most likely because Chicago was already in the bag for Obama and the Democrats so no patronage was needed.
But Duncan’s snub really angered Daley. Here’s what I wrote about his response back then:
Chicago's lame-duck mayor is pissed.
He's pissed at Arne Duncan and the DOE. He hates Race To The Top. He despises the State Board of Education. He's really down on the teacher unions. In general, he's just sputtering mad. Why? Because Chicago Public Schools, not only won't receive a nickel of a potential $400 million in Race To The Top windfall but wasn't even allowed to be part of the state's presentation team that went begging, unsuccessfully, for the competitive grant. This is almost as bad as his loss of the Olympic Games to Rio.
"You leave no child left behind. You race to the top. Next year, you race to the bottom. Next year, you race to the side. Everybody's racing to something," Daley said. "Why can't you send us money to build our schools. ... All the teachers know that these are just political slogans. We should end it." — Sun-Times
And they did.
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