Washington state’s application for the Department of Education’s
Race to the Top grants is in process, carrying with it endorsements
from almost all Washington public schools. Check out the story I wrote about it last week.
But not everyone is on board.
Lots of branches of the statewide teachers union have not signed
on, including those in Central and North Kitsap.
Bremerton’s Education Association did sign on, though President
Tina Mahaney said it was philosophically hard to do.
“Philosophically we are against competing because we don’t feel we
should have to compete for money for basic education,” she said.
However, BEA members agreed that it would be wrong to pass by a
chance to gain funds for the schools when budget cuts come every
year. “We can’t afford to let any money pass us by if it’s out
there,” Mahaney added. Bremerton schools stand to gain more
(over $1.1 million) from RTTT than any other local district. The
level of poverty among students in the Bremerton schools entitles
them to more federal funds each year than any other local district.
Under RTTT, that Title I status also could garner Bremerton schools
more money. (In comparison, CK schools have almost twice the
enrollment as Bremerton, but without the district-wide Title I
status CK only gets a little more than $900,000.)
South Kitsap Education Association signed on too to “be
collaborative” with the school district, said Judy Arbogast, SKEA
president. There is concern among SKEA members about the extra
workload created by the potential of new federal money. Arbogast
said there are many unknowns, including the “cost-benefit
analysis.” Arbogast also said that there is a mixed message. On the
one hand, schools are charged with meeting the needs of every child
under the federal No Child Left Behind law, but now they are
competing for the money to do it. “We shouldn’t be fighting for the
money that is needed,” she said.
Catherine Ahl, a former NK school board member and active
participant these days in the League of Women Voters, has been
against RTTT for several months. She wrote an email to me late last
“I recommended voting against it although I don’t think WA has a
chance in Hell of winning anyway. I believe if money comes from the
federal government there will be strings attached and reporting
requirements that might cost many of the dollars received. If the
state doesn’t receive the money, schools might still be
mandated to do what they signed up for. This seems to be a
diversion from the (NEWS) lawsuit ruling. It will do
nothing about funding transportation, utility, curriculum
replacement etc. that local levies are paying for. The state
continues to ignore its Constitutional duty.”
Some estimate that Washington has only a 20 percent chance of
winning any RTTT money. Remember in the last go-around of RTTT
awards only two states, Delaware and Tennessee, won grants.