Dr. Morton says Race to Top process is "flawed"

Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Superintendent of Education Joe Morton says the Race to the Top application process is flawed, and he's letting his opinion be known to the man in charge of education policy on the federal level.

The $4.5 billion Race to the Top program set aside some $350 million for competition to develop a new student assessment plan for the nation's K-12 schools. One major reason Alabama lost out in the second round because the state does not allow charter schools.

Wednesday, Morton issued an "open letter" to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlining his reasons for believing the program is flawed. Alabama finished dead last in Round 2 funding of the application process - 36th out of 36 - and Morton says that is fanning misinterpretations that Alabama is last in public education in the United States. "Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.

Morton said the application process gave states that allowed charter schools an automatic 40 points on the application. "The RTTT criteria do not appear to distinguish quality among charter school states - just that they allow them" Morton wrote.

Morton further called into question the results of RTTT's fairness because "all 11 states plus the District of Columbia have charter schools. No state without a charter school law was awarded one dollar."

Another point of contention for Morton was Duncan's testimony before Congress when asked why support from organizations, including unions like the Alabama Education Association, would be required to support the RTTT criteria even when state and national organizations are not required to. Morton reports "the AEA state headquarters told all 132 local affiliates not to sign any support document...and none did." The AEA was joined by the National Education Association in voting "no" on support.

Morton cited several other issues he believe make the application unfairness including how five different reviewers graded Alabama's application. The scores ranged from perfect to zero.

CLICK HERE to read Morton's full letter to Secretary of Education Duncan.

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