Delaware and Tennessee win the first round of Race to the Top — $600 million total ($100 million going to tiny Delaware and $500 million going to Tennessee). Education Week’s analysis finds that these two states really stood out when it came to stakeholder support, especially union support. But the magazine’s Politics K-12 blog also speculates that politics could have had something to do with the selection because two key Republican moderates hail from those states:
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del . . . are the ranking minority members in the subcommittees in their respective chambers dealing with K-12 policy, and both are considered leading moderate voices on education who have worked well with Democrats in the past. In fact, in an interview with the Washington Post’s David Broder, Secretary Duncan singled out Alexander and Castle as the two Republicans who had offered ideas that were incorporated into the administration’s ESEA blueprint.Of course, the Obama administration has stressed repeatedly that politics would play absolutely no part in Race to the Top and set up a process intended to keep just these sort of considerations out. But the fact that Tennessee and Delaware apparently submitted such stellar applications might be a lucky break for the administration as its works to get GOP support for its ESEA ideas.
Update: the Dept. of Education has posted all the score sheets and reviewer comments for each state’s application. California came in 27th out of 40 states and did particularly poorly on its discussion of data systems to support instruction.