Posts Tagged Education

Race to the Top & Core Standards: Part I

What it is, How it’s Funded, Who Benefits

Here in Colorado, news is circulating about the disappointment over not being chosen as a finalist for Race to the Top funding (R2T). A number of other states are dealing with the same discouragement, left with unfunded mandates.  In earlier news, the adoption of the Common Core Standards by the Colorado State Board of Education, received very little attention.

This is my attempt to shed a little more light on these two subjects, which are really the same subject: education reform. I think most people agree that something needs to be done to improve education in America. This first part in the series will focus on the facts about R2T and Common Core Standards—what it is, how it is funded, who benefits—all crucial to understand before forming solid opinions about whether this new mandate is the something America needs.

Why does it matter? Because according to the U.S. Department of Education, it is an unprecedented federal investment in education reform and $4.35 billion dollars is a lot of money to follow.

What is Race to the Top?
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund.

According to the U.S. Department of Education: The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund includes $4 billion for statewide reform grants and $350 million to support states working together to improve the quality of their assessments.

The Race to the Top state competition is designed to reward states that are leading the way in comprehensive, coherent, statewide education reform across four key areas:

  • Adopting standards (Common Core Standards) and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace;
  • Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals how to improve instruction;
  • Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
  • Turning around their lowest-performing schools.

Phase I
Forty states and the District of Columbia submitted applications for the first phase of grants.  Delaware and Tennessee were selected from among 16 finalists.

Phase II
The 10 winning Phase II applications in alphabetical order are: the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island.  See all state applications and scores here.

For more information about the Race to the Top Fund and the requirements the states were trying to meet:
http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.pdf

Pic by: © Lucila De Avila | Dreamstime.com http://www.dreamstime.com/free-stock-image-5k-street-race-rimagefree6167867-resi2437745

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Back to School at Home: Support for Homeschool Families

All across Colorado Springs families are preparing for the start of the new school year.  For many, that means organizing carpools, box lunches, new locker combinations, and orientation meetings.  For those who choose to educate their children at home, it means digging through old materials, ordering curriculum, and setting up the school room (or dining room).

When we started homeschooling our oldest daughter 12 years ago, we had no idea the life-changing impact it would really have on our family.  Of course, our first priority was her education so she would be able to compete in the world one day.  She was in 9th grade struggling with learning disabilities and time seemed short.  In my frantic search for resources, I discovered a group at New Life Church offering support for homeschooling families.  That was exactly what I needed.

High Country Enrichment Classes (HCEC) graciously linked arms with us and our adventure began.  Since then, we have homeschooled all three of our children at different times and seasons of life.  If field trips, curriculum advice, classes, and the moms group support were the extent of what we received, we would still credit High Country as our homeschooling lifeline.  But it is so much more.  I’m not suggesting we couldn’t have done it without enrichment classes, but oh, the difference it made.  We all go through seasons of needing hope and help.  It didn’t take long for us to recognize that friendship was just as important as practical help, for moms and children alike.

Today, High Country Enrichment Classes started their thirteenth year of ministering to homeschool families.  Over 300 families with more than 600 students will meet together every Tuesday and Wednesday for the next 12 weeks as they attend over 160 classes. It’s true that you can homeschool without any outside help or support, but why would you?  Classes that round-out lesson plans or sharing our latest challenge or victory with someone who really understands can be welcomed refreshment.  Being part of a network of good friends with common values provides the strength, confidence, and encouragement we all need along life’s journey. Our community is so fortunate to have such caring support for homeschool families all across the Pikes Peak Region.

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