Duncan: Feds ready to work quickly with Florida
If Florida wants its share of education stabilization funds from the federal stimulus plan, it has a simple task ahead.
It must prove in its waiver application that its cuts to education since 2006 were proportional to the cuts it made to other government services. The state has to qualify for the waiver because it has not maintained its funding effort during that period.
"If they can demonstrate that education hasn't been cut more than other areas, they'll be in good shape," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said during a news conference about the stimulus funding.
Florida is to receive the application today, and state officials plan to submit it by the end of the week.
"We look forward to getting their application and turning around an answer very, very quick," Duncan said. "We recognize the real sense of urgency in Florida and our staff is poised to work very, very quickly."
Duncan held the news conference to discuss the release of $44 billion in funding and the rules that are involved in getting the money.
"It's critical this money go out quickly," Duncan said to open the conversation. "But it's even more important it be spent wisely."
To that end, the USDOE will demand loads of data to show how the money is spent. It will look for innovation and dedication in getting the best teachers to the neediest students, and efforts to improve standards and make meaningful change for the schools that need it most. He touted ideas like performance pay and charter schools.
States that are most successful will have the chance to get a share of the department's $5 billion Race to the Top initiative.
"We're just trying to break down barriers," Duncan said. "We want to make sure folks understand at the end of the day, are these students really prepared to be successful, or are they not?"
(Photo from Time magazine)