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Letter to Arne Duncan, Secretary of the Department of Education - Race to the Top

Dear Secretary Duncan,

As Governors -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- we were proud to stand with President Obama, and with you, to bring about real systemic change in education through the Race to the Top competition. Under the first phase of competition, you saw forty states and the District of Columbia respond to your call. While only fifteen states and the District of Columbia were selected as finalists for Phase One, we all remain committed to pursuing necessary reforms to help ensure that our states' applications are competitive for the second phase of funding.

The finalists were announced on March 4, with applications for next round due less than 90 days later on June 1. You also announced that our comments and feedback on our applications would not be available until sometime in April, which would further reduce that already short timeline for meaningful course correction to fewer than 60 days.

Our states need more time to properly evaluate the changes needed to resubmit our applications, as well as to engage in meaningful and collaborative discussions with our legislatures, our schools, our unions, and our communities. We need to make informed changes to our applications, whether in the area of evaluations, turnarounds, standards, or data collection. These changes will be stronger if they are informed by the comments of those who reviewed our initial application.

Therefore, we request that you considerably accelerate the timeline for release of peer reviewers' comments and scores from Phase One or extend the deadline to submit our Phase 2 application until July 1, 2010; so our states can continue the necessary hard work, without losing momentum, to reform education and apply for Race to the Top Phase Two.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
California

Governor Mark Parkinson
Kansas

Governor Brad Henry
Oklahoma

Governor M. Michael Rounds
South Dakota

Governor M. Jodi Rell
Connecticut

Governor John H. Lynch
New Hampshire

Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski
Oregon

Governor Robert F. McDonnell
Virginia

Governor Joe Manchin III
West Virginia


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