Florida education department asks school districts to sign on to Race to the Top
If Florida school districts want a share of the state's Race to the Top funds (up to $700 million, if the feds approve the state's request for the innovation grant), they need to let the Florida Department of Education know. Soon.
Overnight, the FLDOE sent out documents detailing the memorandum of understanding it wants districts to agree to by Dec. 18 and complete by Jan. 12, assuring their participation in the state's efforts to change policy and procedure in ways that conform to the grant. (See the documents Participating LEA MOU and Race to the Top MOU Package for specifics.)
As commissioner Eric J. Smith told the Gradebook last week, participation isn't mandatory, but "if they say no, then if we're successful in getting our grant, half the money that would come in ... would go out to the districts in the Title I formula. If a district that would be eligible didn't want to participate, their share would be allocated to other districts."
The MOU asks for the signatures of superintendents, school board chairmen and union presidents. Some of you have suggested that the teachers hold out, saying some of the details of Race to the Top, such as performance pay and differential pay, aren't in educators' best interest.
In a letter to superintendents, Smith urges support.
"Although we are well positioned to receive this unprecedented level of funding, our competitive edge in this race is contingent on our ability to work together effectively," he wrote. "Race to the Top is designed to improve every facet of our educational system, but we need support from all of our educational partners in order to be successful and choose the direction that will ultimately benefit our children."
What do you think? Should everyone sign?