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Several months ago, Governor Perdue summoned North Carolina business executives to an emergency phone call. The subject was a mystery. But when the Governor calls, you answer.
 
Instead of a big economic announcement, the CEOs listened patiently as the Governor proclaimed that the state was putting in its bid for “Race to the Top” federal funds.
 
This week, North Carolina lost the “Race to the Top” to Delaware and Tennessee. We even finished behind Georgia and Florida.
 
I haven’t seen any reaction from the Governor yet.
 
The question is: Where does this leave our schools?
 
And where does it leave Governor Perdue’s education program?
 
This on top of the turmoil in the capital county’s schools.
 
Ten years ago, Jim Hunt said North Carolina should set a goal of being first in the nation in education by 2010.
 
Instead, it looks like we’re going for first in corruption.
 
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Phil Kirk
# Phil Kirk
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 2:41 PM
I have not followed this issue closely but President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan made it clear from Day 1 that states with caps on charter schools or other negatives related to the growth of the charter public schools would work against approval for Race to the Top funds. While their language may have softened a little bit, media reports indicate the charter school growth issue remained one of the big factors. The North Carolina General Assembly has had many opporunities to raise the cap in a sound manner but has refused to even consider doing so. Former State Board Chairman Howard Lee appointed a blue-ribbon task force on the future of charter schools and recommendations from that group were never seriously considered. If they had been enacted, our schools could be the beneficiary of Race to the Top funds. Better luck in Round 2!
Jim Stegall
# Jim Stegall
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 4:16 PM
Our charter school law was clearly our biggest liability in this race. We lost 16.6 out of a possible 40 points on the charter schools section of the scoring rubric because of the cap, our refusal to assist charters with capital costs, and their exclusion from sharing in lottery proceeds, as well as the administration's general attitude of hostility towards charters. Had our charter school law been as enlightened as Florida's our overall score would have been 429.8, good enough for fourth place in the competition--still out of the money in the first round (we've got a lot of work to do on gathering and using data to inform decisions--including figuring out how to fairly integrate student test data into teacher and principal evaluations) but in very good shape for round two which begins in June.

Phil Kirk is absolutely right. So many good ideas have been ignored or rejected out of hand by the education establishment in Raleigh because they didn't fit the narrow ideological mindframe everyone in power up there seems to suffer under, while money was wasted on costly detures like undifferentiated ABCs bonuses, class size reduction, and literacy coaches. The chickens have indeed come home to roost.
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