Race to the Top Bottoms Out

Published June 14, 2010

A recent editorial gave the Race to the Top policy an A-plus and says there was “little to no legislative effort” from the federal government (“Obama’s A+ in education,” DI, June 11). The first assertion reflects the plague of grade inflation; the latter is simply false.

If we consider Obama’s crowning achievement to be his Race to the Top, let’s look at the policy itself and the results: the Race dangles billions of federal tax dollars over the residents of a state and demands they toe the line. This is an overreach of executive power, considering the U.S. Constitution does not authorize the government to fund public education.

Besides, the Race was characterized last year by the Economic Policy Institute as “more a matter of bias and chance than a result of those states’ superior compliance with reform policies.” And EducationNEXT found that the two first-round winners were ranked at or near the bottom of their own studies.

Finally, the editorial stated that Obama incorporated parental choice in his plan as a matter of policy. Sadly, aside from charter schools, choice initiatives were completely overlooked in the scoring rubric. I give Obama a C-minus. The “C” stands for Constitution and the “minus” is for ignoring it.

Marc Oestreich
Education legislative specialist
Heartland Institute

This letter to the editor was featured in the Daily Iowan