Race to the Top Winners May Reassess Their ‘Luck’ When the One-time Money Dries Up

Published November 27, 2010

Nobody should be the least bit surprised that 28 Ohio school districts and charter schools are willing to forgo a portion of $400 million in federal Race to the Top money. What is surprising is that more districts haven’t turned it down.

Although the Obama administration touted Race to the Top as education’s “21st-century moon shot,” the program comes with plenty of strings attached. What’s more, it is funded through the 2009 stimulus law, meaning that $400 million is one-time money doled out over a period of years. No school district official with any sense would commit to continuing expenditures, including costs associated with complying with federal rules, using one-time grant money.

Despite admitting that the “huge reporting component” is a real burden, Cleveland school district officials are intent on forging ahead anyway. Prediction: Race to the Top’s “winners” will regret their good fortune in a few years.

Ben Boychuk, Chicago

Boychuk is managing editor of School Reform News at the Heartland Institute.