RTTT fears founded?

Patrick Gibbons

*Dramatization of teacher union official blocking the path of a noble education reform crusader.

Teacher union and stakeholder support is worth 70 out of 500 points in Obama’s “Race to the Top” application. A lack of support from the local teachers union in Florida cost the state enough points to place second – and win hundreds of millions of dollars.

Education reformers feared that RTTT scoring gave a lot of veto power to local unions that would result in watered down – if not meaningless – reforms. Those fears may be founded as Indiana and Kansas have dropped from the race – citing a lack of local union support (they now join Alaska and Texas which refused to participate in Round 1).

The teachers union in Massachusetts withdrew its support of the state’s RTTT application citing disagreements over how to turn around low performing schools. Pending Legislation in Colorado will change how the state evaluates teachers, but this has caused the teacher unions in Colorado to withdraw support from the state’s application as well. Additionally, the teachers union in Florida pressured the Governor into vetoing legislation that would have tied teacher evaluations to student test scores – before this, Florida had the support of less than 10 percent of the unions in their RTTT application.

Union support isn’t the only factor for winning RTTT – but it is an important one.