Under President Obama’s new $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, states can compete for funds by creating programs that improve the quality of their schools. The idea of rewarding school reform initiatives is good, but one-time grants from the federal government will not improve our public education system by itself.
Why? Because the $400 million grant Pennsylvania now seeks represents less than half of 1% of the $23 billion spent annually in my state’s public school system. Given the thousands of dollars already being spent per student, an additional $56 per child will be insignificant–unless it is accompanied by comprehensive school-choice reform.
Pennsylvania should adopt reform based on the same premise as the Race to the Top initiative: that competition for taxpayer dollars improves the quality of education.