Today-Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX-15) released the following statement after the official announcement by the U.S. Department of Education naming IDEA Public Schools as one of the winners of the 2012 Race To The Top-District Competition. IDEA Public Schools requested $29,242,882 in funding. The U.S. Department of Education will be finalizing grant amounts by the end of the year.
"I am extremely pleased and very proud that our schools in the Rio Grande Valley are leading the nation in finding innovative ways to educate and inspire students and teachers," said U.S. Rep. Hinojosa. "I congratulate Founder and CEO of IDEA Public Schools Tom Torkelson and Chief of Schools JoAnn Gama for their leadership that is transforming the lives of our students. Improving student achievement is key to their programs. Instilling STEM field studies and providing high-tech tools are essential in creating a path to future careers that will keep the United States competitive in the global market."
From the U.S. Department of Education:
The United States Department of Education announced The U.S. Department of Education announced today that 16 applicants -- representing 55 school districts across 11 states and D.C. -- have won the 2012 Race to the Top-District competition. These districts will share nearly $400 million to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student to succeed in college and their careers.
The 2012 Race to the Top-District grantees will receive four-year awards that range from $10 million to $40 million, depending on the number of students served through the plan. The winning applicants were the top scorers among the 372 applications the Department received in November, which were evaluated and scored by independent peer reviewers. Grantees represent a diverse set of districts, including applicants from both states that received a Race to the Top state grant as well as those that have not received Race to the Top state funding. Among the winners is a rural-area consortium representing 24 rural districts, which comprise 44 percent of the total number of districts that will benefit from the 2012 competition.
The Race to the Top-District competition builds on the success of the Race to the Top state grant program by supporting classroom-level reform efforts that encourage transformative change within schools. Applicants from all districts were invited to demonstrate how they can personalize education for all students and provide school leaders and teachers with tools that help them best meet their students' needs. In developing their plans, districts collaborated with educators, parents, and both public and private organizational leaders to ensure their vision was supported by key community stakeholders.
Race to the Top, which launched in 2009, has inspired dramatic education reform nationwide, leading 45 states and the District of Columbia to pursue higher college- and career-ready standards, data-driven decision making, greater support for teachers and leaders, and turnaround interventions in low-performing schools. These 16 grantees will build on those principles at the classroom level to support localized plans that will directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness.
Race to the Top-District plans are tailored to meet the needs of local communities and feature a variety of strategies, including: using technology to personalize learning for each student; giving students opportunities to learn beyond the traditional school day and environment; supporting students' transitions throughout their education, including from high school to college and careers; expanding partnerships with community organizations to provide students with targeted social services like crisis intervention, individual counseling and life enrichment opportunities; and providing professional development and coursework options to deepen learning in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.