Sitting on the desk of the secretary of education are dozens of ideas bold enough to finally start solving our country’s education crisis. They are contained in applications by 40 states and the District of Columbia for grants from the Race to the Top fund, a $4.35 billion piece of the stimulus package designed to dramatically improve student achievement.
Congress established strong guidelines to guarantee that states spend Race to the Top money on audacious reforms. Many states responded with equal fortitude, submitting proposals to radically improve how they use data or to adopt college- and career-ready standards — concepts that used to be considered third rails in the world of education. Never before has this country had such an opportunity to remake the way we teach young people.
One reason I am so optimistic about these developments is because, after decades of diffuse reform efforts, they all zero in on the most important ingredient of a great education: effective teachers. The key to helping students learn is making sure that every child has an effective teacher every single year.