Race to the Top, round two: Colorado loses again

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride: Colorado will not receive any money in round two of Race to the Top, President Obama's federal education-reform grant contest. Though Colorado was one of nineteen finalists, several news sources are reporting that a U.S. Department of Education spokesman says Colorado is not a winner.

Instead, spokesman Justin Hamilton says the victors are Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island. Those states, plus Washington, D.C., will share $3.4 billion in grant money. Colorado had applied for $175 million.

The loss comes after Colorado passed a controversial law at least partly aimed at boosting its chances in Race to the Top. Senate Bill 191, the so-called "teacher tenure bill," changes the way the state's teachers receive and keep tenure by basing half of the determination on their students' academic growth. It also makes it easier for teachers to lose that status if they're deemed "ineffective" for two years in a row.

The Colorado Education Association opposed the bill, and many teachers didn't like it. But several superintendents, as well as state Education Commissioner Dwight Jones, favored it -- and even suggested publicly that it would help Colorado win Race to the Top.

So where does the loss leave Colorado? This summer, the state did receive $1 million in grants to boost "educator effectiveness," a key tenet of Race to the Top. But that other $174 million sure would have been helpful.

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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