Aug 24, 2010 8:14 PM by Chris Welty
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana lost its second bid to get a
slice of the billions of dollars in federal education grant money
available in the "Race to the Top" competition.
The state was not chosen Tuesday by the U.S. Education
Department for the latest round of the $4.4 billion program, after
also losing out in the first round.
State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek, who had touted
the state's application as strong and a likely contender for grant
money, said the loss was disappointing, but he described the
state's competitors as strong and said he doesn't believe the
distribution was unfair.
Pastorek said the state will continue with the proposals
included in its Race to the Top application, some of which were
enTUted into law, including a teacher evaluation system that will
grade public school and charter school teachers partially on
student test scores.
The superintendent said he'll look to foundations and other
possible sources of funding to help pay for his proposals,
acknowledging the state may have to move more slowly to enact them.
"We may be rejected here, but we will not be denied ... I don't
believe there's any reform we have in our application that we won't
be able to go forward with," Pastorek said in a conference call
Louisiana sought more than $300 million in the first round and
$175 million in the second round, hoping to use the money to make
sweeping changes in more than two dozen school districts.
The program is part of the federal stimulus package, backed by
President Barack Obama as a way to improve struggling schools. Nine
states and the District of Columbia were selected for the second 2round of grants Tuesday. Only two states received dollars from the
Louisiana scored 434 points out of 500, ranking 13 out of the 36
applicants in the second round, according to the state education
department. It was an increase from the state's first round score,
but still not good enough.
The state's plan would require changes in the way low-performing
schools operate, including in teacher evaluations, teacher pay,
student assessments and leadership. The plan could increase the
number of charter schools, which are publicly funded but
independent of local school boards. One of the most controversial
changes was the linking of teacher pay, retention and promotion to
student performance scores.
Twenty-eight of 70 school districts and most charter schools in
the state signed on. But the Louisiana School Boards Association
and the Louisiana Association of Educators, one of the two major
teacher unions in theH.tate, objected to the plan.
A third round of grants is expected to be available to states
next year. Pastorek said if there's another round, Louisiana will