Race to the Top: Colorado tries again

After not succeeding the first time, Colorado is try-trying again to win Race to the Top.

The state submitted its application today for round two of the federal education-reform grant contest, in which it stands to win up to $175 million. Colorado came in fourteenth out of sixteen finalists in round one in April.

Several things are different this time around. For one, Colorado is seeking less money; its round-one application asked for $377 million.

But the state no longer has the backing of the 40,000-teacher Colorado Education Association, which withdrew its support after Education Commissioner Dwight Jones wrote an opinion piece in the Denver Post praising a bill that would revamp the way teachers are granted tenure. Jones argued that the bill, which the CEA opposed, could be key to winning round two of Race to the Top -- an opinion many, including bill sponsor Senator Michael Johnston, agree with. The bill passed and has since been signed into law.

"Our Phase 2 Race to the Top application focuses on reducing the dropout rate, closing the achievement gap and turning around low-performing schools so that every child gets the high-quality education they deserve," Governor Bill Ritter says in a press release.

For an example of one such "turnaround plan," see the Westword feature, "P.S. 1 Didn't Make the Grade, But Can Anything Replace Denver's Longest-Running Charter School?"

Colorado is one of thirty-eight states to apply for Race to the Top money, according to Ritter's office. The round-two finalists will be announced in July, and the winners will be picked in September. Keep your fingers crossed, Colorado.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar