New York is at risk of losing millions of dollars in federal aid if it does not step up progress on proposed education reforms, Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned in a statement on Monday.
In 2010, New York won nearly $700 million in grant money as part of the Race to the Top competition, a $4.35 billion initiative enacted by President Obama to award states that promise to implement significant reform in their school systems.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of State released for the first time progress reports evaluating the performance of the 11 states and the District of Columbia that received funding from the Race to the Top program. While New York showed significant progress on some of its Race to the Top goals, the report cited several major impediments to the timely implementation of its proposed reforms: difficulties in communication between local school districts and the State Department; failure to establish a teacher and principal evaluation system; and delays in adopting a database for tracking student records.
Duncan said, “New York has a chance to be a national leader or a laggard, and we are only interested in supporting real courage and bold leadership. Backtracking on reform commitments could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars for improving New York schools.”
Just last week, New York State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. suspended school improvement grant (SIG) funding in all 10 school districts that receive the federal money. The districts, which included New York City, failed to make the necessary changes to their teacher and principal evaluation systems by a Dec. 31 deadline. The city’s total grant amount was close to $60 million.
King also acknowledging the need for New York to overcome these challenges. He said in a statement released on Tuesday: “It’s disappointing, but not discouraging. We have to get this done, and we will. The RTTT [Road to the Top] report is a reminder that the federal government will hold us to the commitments we made in our RTTT application, just as we will hold districts and educators to the commitments they made.”