Surrendering to the teacher unions?

Patrick Gibbons

A recent Wall Street Journal article notes that the Obama administration has retreated from education reform,

“In the spring, when the White House announced its $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” initiative to improve K-12 schooling, President Obama said, “Any state that makes it unlawful to link student progress to teacher evaluations will have to change its ways to compete for a grant.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters, “states that don’t have charter school laws, or put artificial caps on the growth of charter schools, will jeopardize their application.”

The Administration appears to be retreating on both requirements. The final Race to the Top regulations allow states to use “multiple measures,” including peer reviews, to evaluate instructors. This means states that prohibit student test data from being used to measure a teacher’s performance may be eligible for the federal funds, even though the President clearly said that they wouldn’t be.

Nor are states any longer required to embrace charter schools to win a grant. In June, Mr. Duncan scolded by name some of the states, such as Maine and Tennessee, that don’t allow charters or limit enrollment in these independent public schools. Under the final regulations, however, states that prohibit charters can still receive Race to the Top dollars so long as they have other kinds of “innovative public schools.” That’s an invitation for states to game the criteria by relabeling a few traditional public schools as innovative. “