Today, Senator Roland W. Burris announced that the State of Illinois is one of sixteen finalists in the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top competition. Race to the Top is the Department of Education?s $4.35 billion effort to considerably reform and improve America's educational system in order to better prepare students for success in the 21st century.
States competing for Race to the Top funds were asked to document past education reform successes, as well as outline plans to: extend reforms using college and career-ready standards and assessments; build a workforce of highly effective educators; create educational data systems to support student achievement; and turn around their lowest-performing schools.
Senator Burris recently spoke at Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago to stress the importance of education in the lives of our young students and reaffirm his stance that every child, regardless of background, deserves the right to a quality education in America.
"If America is to continue its leadership role in innovation and opportunity, then we must ensure that our students are given the chance to receive a first-rate education," said Senator Burris. "Race to the Top in an incredible opportunity to dramatically improve our educational system in the United States and helps make certain that our students are fully prepared for careers in the 21st century."
The 16 finalists were chosen from among the 40 states and the District of Columbia that submitted applications for Phase 1. Winners for Phase 1 will be chosen from among the 16 finalists and announced in April. Applications for Phase 2 will be due on June 1 of this year, with finalists announced in August and winners in September. The only states prohibited from applying in Phase 2 are those that receive awards in Phase 1. The sixteen finalists announced today were: Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Of the $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Department will distribute approximately $4 billion directly to states to drive education reform and $350 million to consortia of states that compete in a separate competition to create new college and career-ready assessments. The assessment competition is still in the design phase.
Based on Race to the Top's early positive effect on national education reform, President Obama proposed to continue the program next year by requesting $1.35 billion in the administration's FY 2011 budget.
Department of Education - Race to the Top Competition