Tennessee has historically been ranked near the bottom of the 50 states in education but it has won the first lottery in stimulus money in the 'race to the top' program. A one time $500 million grant that's been based on how well the state will follow the federal 'guidelines.' After the money is gone, any programs implemented will fall to state funding.
Some of the reports are hinting that professional corporate 'educators' will get a chunk of the money to go in and help the schools. It sounds like the beginnings of a 'corporatist' public school system using the strong arm of the feds to set an agenda.
In selecting winners, the education department used a complicated scoring system that weighted everything from states' willingness to track student and teacher performance, adopt uniform standards, and turn around or close their worst schools.
"Obviously, when they're dangling a carrot of half a billion dollars it doesn't hurt. Especially when we're scrambling for every penny," said Jerry Winters, director of government relations for the Tennessee Education Association.
Teachers were leery of the proposed reforms, particularly the idea of using the state's massive data tracking system to evaluate their performance. In the end, Winters said, seven years of trust and cooperation between the union and the governor's office persuaded them to buy into the reforms.
I'm going to go with the idea that when the federal government gets involved in local education by dangling carrots in front of cash strapped states, it is not totally in the best interests of the children. The 'Obama reforms' will have a price.