Friday, January 08, 2010

About the race to the top..

There was precious little in the RTTT grant directed to Birmingham, or to the other school districts that chose not to sign the RTTT grant request. For Birmingham, the grant may have cost the district more than the award.

So why would this district, and others, choose to not sign a memorandum of understanding related to the Federal RTTT (Race to the Top) program?

First some facts:
  • Birmingham would only be eligible for up to $60,000 in federal funds under RTTT,
  • Federal program dollars come with compliance requirements, in this case compliance costs would probably outweigh the monetary benefit,
  • For districts like Pontiac, which stands to gain $3 Million, the benefits far exceed the costs,
  • The agreement we were asked to sign states the plan has YET TO BE PROMULGATED; in other words the memo asks the district to sign up for something that is not complete, has not been published, and will affect the district in unknown ways (in requirements and costs).
  • The program required the signature of a board president, superintendent, and local union representative -- until it didn’ is and has been a very disjointed process.
Some more facts:
Birmingham Schools, and other similar school districts in Michigan, know how to achieve excellent results (our district has been in the top ten, out of 541 public districts, for years). The measurement can be seen in the number of AP scholars, the depth and breath of AP offerings, performance on standardized tests, the high level of acceptance to outstanding Universities, the ongoing achievement of graduates...the list goes on and on.

Still we embrace the desire to advance, to challenge, and to recognize that anything can be made better. This philosophy is embedded in the strategic plan and process that guides the vision of the district.

Mike Flanagan was given a nearly impossible task, with no time to accomplish the task. While Michigan has enacted significant legislative changes to promote the laudable goals of RTTT, those changes will affect schools regardless of their position on the RTTT request.

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