Now, it's better to be in the running than not -- or is it?
Today's announcement awards no money; that's still five weeks away, in mid-April. Since there were 40 states and D.C. in the competition, a little more than half the states were lopped off and have a chance to reapply for Round 2 by June 1st.
New York's Race to the Top application reflected extensive policy changes by the Regents, adopted during its November and December meetings. The Regents' recommendations for legislative changes, however, went nowhere as the legislature--the Senate, actually--was stalemated. Considering the sham, anti-charter legislation that was on track for approval by the Assembly, the stalemate was the best outcome at the time.
In effect, New York's Race to the Top application is half a loaf, but enough to make the "sweet 16" of finalists.
The worst of outcomes would be if New York won a Round 1 award of some paltry sum since winning in Round 1 makes a state ineligible for a second try for a higher grant in Round 2. If New York cannot win the maximum $700 million award now--which is highly unlikely--the state is better off forgoing a smaller grant for the time being, enacting substantive education reforms, and reapplying for the maximum award in June.
The best outcome? Adopt legislative reforms now. The Race to the Top criteria technically does not consider changes after submission of Round 1 applications during their review process. Yet there is everything to be gained by enacting reforms sooner rather than later since the Obama administration will surely notice the legislature finally taking its comprehensive education reform agenda seriously.
In a tight competition among the final 16, anything helps. Oh, and did I say New York State needs every cent of that $700 million - like, right now?
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