09 Jun Education Secretary Lauds State’s Plan for School Funding (NY)

June 9, 2010

By: Jerry Zremski
Source: The Buffalo News

New York State did the right thing by putting forward a strong application for the second round of federal "Race to the Top" school funding, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said this morning.

"I think the state and the Legislature made a good move" in voting to more than double the number of charter schools in the state, Duncan told reporters after speaking at a gathering of New York’s university presidents, which was sponsored by Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

New York put forward "a good application" for the first round of funding, Duncan said, adding that the state’s recently filed application should be stronger.

Asked about the expansion of charter schools in the state, Duncan said: "That’s a piece of the puzzle."

The state lost out in the first round of funding, and the fact that the state previously capped its number of charter schools at 200 is widely seen as a reason why it lost out to other states in the battle for the federal money.

The state filed its second application, this time for upwards of $700 million in federal funding, on June 1 — days after the State Legislature agreed to boost the number of charter schools in the state to 460.

"Race to the Top" is the Obama administration’s central initiative to improve public education nationwide. State officials are eying the federal funding as a possible stopgap at a time of state budget shortfalls that are likely to result in teacher layoffs.

The Obama initiative offers massive amounts of federal money to states that:

— A dopt standards that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace.

— Build data systems that assess student performance.

— Recruit and reward the best teachers and principals.

— Turn around the performance of low-achieving schools and offer alternatives that reform public education.

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