United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., celebrated today's announcement by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan that Louisiana is one of 16 states to advance to the final round in the competition for education funding through the Race to the Top program. Forty states and the District of Columbia applied to compete for $4.35 billion in federal education grants. Louisiana requested $314 million in its application.
Senator Landrieu has been a long-time advocate of education reform and has been a champion of the Race to the Top program since its inception. The program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for which Sen. Landrieu voted last year.
"I am very excited to see Louisiana in the finals of this competition," Sen. Landrieu said. "This effort did not start in Louisiana a year ago when this application was submitted. This effort has been going on for 20 years. There are a lot of people who deserve a lot of credit for getting us to this point. As someone who has been on the front lines of this issue, I can say that a lot of credit must go to our recent governors and the BESE Board for staying the course and implementing serious education reform in Louisiana.
"We have set forth a profound and clear concept in Louisiana that just spending money on schools without expecting results is not going to be accepted. We expect the money spent on schools to get to the classroom and support educational excellence. Louisiana has been leading the effort to bring accountability to schools and we deserve to be in the finals. If we are selected as a winner, the money will be a great help to supplement the federal, state and local funding our schools are receiving now."
If Louisiana emerges as a winner, the state could receive up to $314 million over the next four years, the amount state leaders requested in their application to the Department of Education. Race to the Top awards could help the 325,000 public school students in participating Louisiana schools.
Louisiana's application moved to the final round because of the state's achievements in education and clear commitment in the following four core areas:
* Investing in "human capital"-highly qualified and effective teachers with continuing improvement in skills for every student and strong and able principals with the ability to lead;
* Intervening in low-performing schools to change their course;
* Adoption and use of quality standards and assessment tools;
* Strong use of data down to the classroom level.
Louisiana's application, "Our Children Can't Wait: Louisiana's Blueprint for Education Reform," is centered on ensuring that across the state, every student is taught by an effective teacher, and every teacher is supported by an effective leader. The strong application highlights Louisiana's capacity and demonstrated success in achieving meaningful reform and puts the state in position to win a grant in the second round of this competition.
First Round winners will be announced in April.