Florida AG McCollum backs state's Race to the Top effort
Florida attorney general and Republican candidate for governor Bill McCollum has called upon his fellow Cabinet members to support the state's effort to tap into the Obama Administration's $4.35 billion Race to the Top education grant.
“Building an education system to meet the workforce demands of Florida’s rapidly transitioning economy will take even more dramatic efforts – including improving and rewarding teacher quality, increasing academic rigor in high schools, turning around low-performing schools, and giving families more choices,” McCollum wrote in a letter to education commissioner Eric J. Smith. “Capitalizing on this exciting opportunity is critical to the future success of our children.”
McCollum also urged the Florida Education Association to end its opposition to the state's application, calling the union's position "unconscionable" because it could cause the state to lose millions of dollars.
FEA president Andy Ford tells the Gradebook that he has been working to fix some of the problems he perceives with the application, meeting with Smith on Monday and offering to sit for more talks until the documents are due in D.C. on Jan. 19. Next Tuesday is a key date, though, as Smith has asked all districts to send memorandums of understanding to the department by then.
Ford explained that it's not so much the details of the plan that bother the union, but more the top-down prescriptive approach coming from Tallahassee. Add some flexibility and more room for local input, perhaps some acknowledgment that some of the ideas need pilot programs rather than wholesale implementation, and Ford suggested that support might follow.
"I'm still hopeful that come Tuesday we will have an agreement," he said.