For Delaware and Tennessee right now, life is pretty good. Of all the states who applied for Race to the Top funding, they're the big - and only - winners. For everyone else, it's time for the blame game. Here in New York we're spending a lot of time blaming the teachers' union because that's just what we do here. In other parts of the country, though, they're doing the more rational thing - blaming the judges.
Let me stipulate here that I have no intention of vouching for the RttT judging. I don't know enough about each state's application to say if the right ones won. That said, I get a little suspicious when I hear the losers of a competition suddenly blaming the judges for their losing.
Apparently, several states are mulling not reapplying because those hundreds of millions of dollars just don't seem worth it anymore. To hear that coming from California, where they're fighting a day to day battle with solency, shows you how deep the feelings run.
This is the big danger of the RttT program. It gave a big incentive for states to reform (according to a specific vision) their education system. However, we always knew that there would be states that didn't win and we knew that there would be limits in terms of how to keep states reforming as they went forward.
Now is the time for the real test (a high stakes test, if you will). Now that we know there are winners and losers, what happens? Do we see a continued focus on schools and improving education or do we revert and call it quits. What happens in the next few weeks and months is going to define the legacy of Race to the Top far more than anything that has come before.