March 11, 2010
The names of the five people who will make the final pitch to federal officials in New York’s bid for coveted Race to the Top funds are due at noon tomorrow. But state education officials are still finalizing who will take the field trip to D.C.
It’s an important decision. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said that the competition’s judges are looking to see whether states’ representatives are capable of carrying out the reforms they’re promising. That could make all the difference in determining the winners, he has said.
Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch will be appointing members of the team, she told GothamSchools today, but she said she was still in conversations with possible representatives.
States can bring up to five people “with a deep knowledge” of the application and may not bring consultants, according to the rules USDOE officials sent to finalists. “State teams may include elected officials, State education executives, district superintendents, teacher leaders, and others with ongoing leadership roles and deep knowledge of the State’s application,” the guidelines state.
Other states are reportedly breaking out the big guns for the presentations. For example, the governors of North Carolina, Georgia, Delaware and Tennessee are definitely planning to make the trip, Education Week has reported.
So who are New York’s big guns?
The obvious answers are Tisch herself and State Education Commissioner David Steiner. They have been the primary public faces for the states’ Race to the Top efforts, and Tisch has expressed confidence that the state is competitive because Steiner’s and her priorities for reform often neatly match those of the Obama administration. Even before he was commissioner, Steiner has also long been known for innovations in the way teachers are trained, the area on which Steiner has said the state will likely focus its Race to the Top presentation.
Deputy Commissioner John King is another likely candidate, especially given his past work as the former director of the charter school network Uncommon Schools. Regent Lester Young, who helped shape the Board of Regents’ reform agenda for Race to the Top alongside Tisch, could also be tapped.
State education officials could also choose to tap some higher-profile names — specifically, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, or even Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg has been aggressive about promoting the reforms he thinks are necessary for the state to win. And Duncan has often cited New York City as in some ways the poster child for the kinds of sweeping, accountability-based reforms the Obama administration would like to see spread elsewhere.
Unlike other states, who are recruiting their governors to show how serious they are about reform, New York officials may choose to leave their leader at home, as scandals surrounding the governor could prove a distraction.
Who do you think the state will send? Who do you think the state should send?