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Race To The Trigger Option With Chinese Money

May 31, 2011

Has the Missouri legislature has done an end run around transparency in bringing educational reform to our state? While the legislative line up was peppered with a myriad of bills to advance Educated Citizenry 2020, the synonym for the federal Race To The Top initiative, much of it languished as the session advanced and none of it survived to cross the finish line. Perhaps accepting funds to implement federal programs is easier than passing state legislation. Earlier this May, the US Department of Education announced Missouri will receive 8.9 million dollars in federal funds (Chinese Money?), to implement programs that look suspiciously like Race To The Top and the Parent Trigger Option, in an effort to turn around under performing schools.

As schools apply to receive funds from this grant they must commit to adopting one of four models of school management in attempt to raise achievement. All four models include components of Race To The Top and California’s Parent Trigger, some of which include closing schools, redistributing students to surrounding schools/districts, restructuring governance, replacing employees (administrators and teachers), expanding charter schools, changing curriculum and extending learning time.

On February 2nd, House Floor Leader, Tim Jones, introduced HB393, otherwise know as the Parent Empowerment and Choice Act. The bill was Jones’ attempt to bring the Parent Trigger to Missouri schools, an initiative that has met with much controversy in California. His bill had seen no movement since February 16th, and on May 5th Missouri was awarded the School Improvement Grant (SIG).

As members of the Senate filibustered against accepting stimulus money to fund various entitlements and pork projects, the SIG grant seemed to fill a void that refusing these funds had left in the education budget, as well as negating the need to pass legislation to advance EC2020.

In a 4/7/2011 Beacon article: Nieves told reporters that the school money was “not the subject at hand. We are handling these things one demon at a time.” But Lembke said after the news conference that the filibuster did affect the school aid.

As the 2010/2011 legislative session ended, one must question how has a Republican led legislature brought conservative values and sovereignty back to Missouri? How have they strengthened local control of schools? Is adopting the Obama administration’s educational policy and educational philosophy of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, helping our children gain a quality education? Is the legislature operating with transparency, and is paying for progressive educational programs a good use of Chinese money?

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