Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, together with the entire Massachusetts Congressional Delegation today announced that Massachusetts has won the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top Competition. Massachusetts was one of 18 states to advance to the second round and is among ten winning applicants.
The Race to the Top competition challenges states to positively reform their education systems. The incentive is a financial reward that comes from the Department's $4.35 billion education budget. 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.
The Massachusetts lawmakers wrote to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan earlier in the summer urging him to take the state's strong commitment to high educational standards into consideration when reviewing its Phase 2 application.
"We just landed a quarter of a billion dollars for school reform and that's a very big deal for our kids, teachers, and principals," said Senator Kerry. "This wasn't easy, and it didn't happen without some tough decisions and compromises, but the bottom line is a lot of folks rolled up their sleeves to make this happen."
"I'm pleased to see that Massachusetts is being recognized for being a national leader in education. Though I have concerns about Massachusetts adopting the Common Core Standards, I'm confident this funding will enable the Commonwealth to close achievement gaps and increase the ability of our students to compete on a global scale," said Senator Scott Brown.
"Massachusetts' selection for Race To The Top funding is a testament to the excellent and innovative education reform proposals that Governor Patrick and education leaders from across the Commonwealth have put forward," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "This significant award of federal dollars will help eliminate achievement gaps and improve troubled schools so that every child in Massachusetts has the opportunity to succeed."
"Today's announcement that Massachusetts has been chosen as a winner in Phase II of the Department of Education's Race to the Top competition reaffirms the Commonwealth's strong commitment to leading the way in setting high educational standards," said Delahunt. "It is a testament to the hard work of Governor Patrick and his Administration in aggressively pursuing this funding and I am pleased to join today in recognizing the hard work of our students, parents, teachers, and administrators."
"This is great news for Massachusetts as students and teachers prepare for another academic year. These federal funds will make even more resources available to our schools so teachers and administrators can further strengthen educational programming," stated Congressman Capuano.
"This is wonderful news for our schools and communities and I congratulate all those whose hard work and dedication made this possible," Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said. "Massachusetts has some of the highest educational standards in the country and I am proud that these funds will be used to implement reforms that will further improve our schools."
"I am delighted that our schools have been rewarded for their unwavering commitment to quality education," said Congressman John Olver. "Our teachers and administrators have done an outstanding job, and this funding will enable them to continue providing quality programs for our students," said Congressman John Olver (D-MA).
"Every student should have access to a quality education and, at a time of state budget shortfalls and ongoing economic challenges, Race to the Top funds will provide local school districts with critical resources to make further improvements to the state's already first-class education system," said Congressman John F. Tierney (MA-06) "I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the Commonwealth to help move Massachusetts schools forward."
"This is terrific news for Massachusetts students and their families," Rep. Jim McGovern said. "I'm very pleased that our high standards and hard work are being rewarded with these funds."
"Massachusetts has always been a leader in providing a quality public education to children who live in the state. We have the best teachers and school administrators. That is why today's important announcement should come as no great surprise. These federal funds will help implement reforms that will ensure that our students remain the best and the brightest,' said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
The other winning applicants are Rhode Island, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and the District of Columbia.