In New Jersey, we are proud to be ranked among the top 5 NAEP performers in reading, writing, and mathematics. We are proud to have invested so successfully in admired and effective early childhood programs, high-quality charter schools, and high school redesign. We are proud to see the success of our efforts.
However, while we are making inroads to close the achievement gap, we also recognize that more work is needed to prepare all of our students for the demands of the global economy. The existing minority achievement gaps and the gaps for economically-disadvantaged and non- disadvantaged students are unacceptable. There is an urgent need for these further reforms.
The landmark Abbot decisions over the last three decades in conjunction with the creation of the new school funding formula in 2008 solidified New Jersey’s commitment to equitable school resources and ensuring that all student sin the State have access to needed resources. Although this has been a significant step, we have not yet achieved outcomes commensurate with the State’s investments in education in all districts. Furthermore, we have not yet solved the problems of how to place great teachers and leaders in struggling schools and districts.
Eleven Wisconsin school districts want nothing to do with a highly touted federal grant program that could direct thousands of dollars to their classrooms.
The districts were the only ones out of 425 that refused to take part in the state’s application to receive money under the nearly $4.5 billion Race to the Top grant program.
That means if Wisconsin is awarded the $254 million it seeks, the 11 districts won’t get a cut, and the money they would have gotten will go to the remaining schools.
That’s just fine with Mary Dean, administrator of the Maple Dale-Indian Hills School District just north of Milwaukee. She said the requirements under the state’s Race to the Top application were too onerous for her 500-student district to comply with, so instead of giving itself the option of declining to take part later, it decided not to participate at all.
“We really had too many questions, too many unknowns,” she said. “We thought the costs would outweigh the benefits.”