Senator John Kerry, together with the entire Massachusetts Congressional Delegation today announced that Massachusetts has been named a finalist in the second phase of the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top Competition.
The Massachusetts lawmakers wrote to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan last month urging him to consider the state's strong commitment to high educational standards when reviewing its Phase 2 application to the Race to the Top fund.
The Race to the Top competition challenges states to positively reform their education systems rewarding them from an overall budget of $4.35 billion in critically needed education money. Race to the Top awards go to States that are leading the way with ambitious yet achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling, and comprehensive education reform.
Massachusetts has the highest educational standards in the country and had a strong application for Phase 1 of this funding. However, despite those high standards the state's Phase 1 application was docked 15 points because of the its refusal to accept anything lower than the high standards that have been set for our students here in Massachusetts and ultimately did not receive funding in the first round. The letter said that it would be unfair to penalize Massachusetts for having some of the highest educational standards in the country.
"This is a big moment and well-deserved for the teachers, students, parents, administrators who have been working overtime to close achievement gaps and ensure that every single Massachusetts student gets a world-class public education. Our entire congressional delegation pulled together with the Governor and the legislature to advance our state's application and we hope to see Massachusetts win the race to the top," said Senator Kerry.
"This is great news for Massachusetts students and their families. The Commonwealth's high standards should not be held against us -- indeed, they should be celebrated. I commend the Department of Education for this announcement," said Rep. McGovern.
"The Race to the Top competition provides states with incentives to improve our schools and better educate our children. We know that Massachusetts has some of the best students, teachers and principals in the country, and today's announcement underscores that fact. I am confident that we will cross the finish line and be rewarded with federal investment when the winners are announced in September," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
"This is great news for the Commonwealth and I am optimistic that we have a strong application moving into the final phase of this process. Educators and administrators in school districts all over the state are working hard to prepare their students for higher education and the workforce. If awarded, these funds will give our educators access to even more resources so they can further strengthen our educational programming," stated Congressman Capuano.
"Our teachers and administrators work very hard to provide our students with the best possible education, and being named as a finalist shows that Massachusetts has earned its reputation for having outstanding public schools," said Congressman John Olver (D-MA). "I am delighted that our schools are in the running for the highest award, and I look forward to supporting their application in the coming months."
"Massachusetts' selection as a finalist in the second phase of this competition is a testament to the excellent education reform proposals the Commonwealth has put forward, which aim to eliminate achievement gaps and improve troubled schools so that every child in Massachusetts is given the opportunity to achieve," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "I urge the Secretary of Education to give this impressive proposal, which builds upon the Commonwealth's initial submission, the support it deserves from the federal government."
"This is a great step for the legislators, teachers, and parents who are working together to move Massachusetts forward in this Race to the Top competition," said Congressman John Tierney. "Congress included Race to the Top in the Recovery Act to promote state-initiated education reform efforts and provide federal funds to support our local schools, students, and families during these challenging economic times. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the Commonwealth to help improve the quality of our education system."