PROVIDENCE (via RIDE press release) Rhode Island educators, government and business leaders, and other community members gathered today (August 24) to celebrate the first anniversary of the Race to the Top grant.
One year ago today, the U.S. Department of Education recognized the excellence of the Rhode Island strategic plan for transforming education and awarded the state $75 million to advance student achievement and close achievement gaps.
“My commitment to public education was reflected in my fiscal year 2012 budget, which fully funded the formula for K-12 education and proposed 10 million additional dollars for higher education,” Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said, in marking the one-year anniversary of Race to the Top. “I look forward to working with Commissioner Gist and the Board of Regents to continue putting Race to the Top funds to use improving public education in Rhode Island.”
At a R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) news conference this morning, many government and education leaders reflected on the significance of Race to the Top for Rhode Island.
“At a time when Rhode Island and many other states across our country are experiencing economic difficulties, there are some beacons of light. and the collaborative energy in Rhode Island surrounding Race to the Top is one of them,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “I was proud to be part of Rhode Island’s Race to the Top Delegation, along with Superintendant Tom Brady and Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith, which traveled to Washington last year to present the best case for Rhode Island’s application, and I am even more proud to be here with you today to celebrate our achievements. I applaud the work that has been done to strengthen the foundation Rhode Island has built to drive meaningful education reform and the public-private partnerships that are driving the state’s successful initiative. Due to these partnerships, our state’s education system will have a brighter future and our children will be college- and career-ready.”
“The one-year anniversary is a time to reflect upon the foundation being built that we all hope will lead to many accomplishments ahead,” said Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox. “Through this grant, the groundwork is now being established to implement innovative programs and develop aggressive strategies in support of our dedicated teachers in order for them to help Rhode Island’s students reach unprecedented heights.”
“Rhode Island’s success in securing a highly competitive Race to the Top grant was a result of a broad cross-section of interests coming together with the common purpose of improving the state’s educational systems,” said Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed. “Rhode Island teachers’ willingness to challenge the status quo has been instrumental in our success to this point. We’re off to a great start, and I look forward to continued collaboration among government leaders, education officials, and educators as we work to implement reforms and build a world-class education system in Rhode Island.”
“The award of Race to the Top was a historic occasion for education in Rhode Island,” said George D. Caruolo, Chairman of the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education. “We were honored to earn this award, and we pledge to all Rhode Islanders that we will use these funds to improve education in Rhode Island. With help from Race to the Top funds, with the support of state and local government, with dedicated and passionate teachers and the interest and desire of parents and families across Rhode Island, we are all working our hardest to make our public schools the best in America.”
“Race to the Top has inspired Rhode Islanders to believe in our students, our teachers, and our schools and to work together to transform education across the state,” said Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “As we enter Year Two of Race to the Top funding, we can take pride in what we have achieved to date, and we look forward to beginning important new initiatives in the coming school year.”
Many government leaders, educators, students, and community members, as well as representatives of the Race to the Top Steering Committee and several Rhode Islanders who traveled to Washington last year in a show of nonpartisan support for the Rhode Island Race to the Top application, attended this morning’s news conference, which was held at the Rhode Island Foundation.
“The Foundation’s commitment to public education is stronger than ever,” noted Rhode Island Foundation President & CEO Neil Steinberg, co-chair of the Race to the Top Steering Committee. “Thanks to the partnerships forged during the application process, we have seen real progress in this critical first year of Race to the Top. It’s rewarding to be part of a group that is so positive and energized about what it is possible to achieve in Rhode Island’s schools.”
“In the first year of Race to the Top, superintendents, principals, and teachers collaborated with RIDE to develop new teacher and principal evaluation systems and plan our transition to world-class learning standards,” said Colleen B. Jermain, co-chair of the Race to the Top Steering Committee. “Now we’re beginning a new school year and an exciting second year of Race to the Top. Educators are looking forward to having a comprehensive set of new tools to support students and teachers in our classrooms. The Steering Committee will continue to provide guidance and feedback to ensure that we use Race to the Top funds wisely to advance student learning and to close achievement gaps.”
The accomplishments during Year One of Race to the Top include:
- Collaboration between RIDE and every school district to prepare budgets and four-year plans for use of Race to the Top funds;
- Training nearly 2,500 teachers from 19 school districts to prepare them to use the new Common Core State Standards; and
- Training nearly 600 educators and 85 principals to prepare them to implement the new educator-evaluation system across the state.
In Year Two of Race to the Top, several new initiatives will get under way, including:
- Launching teacher-induction programs to support Rhode Island beginning teachers;
- Beginning intensive curriculum work in English and mathematics in 11 school districts;
- Implementing annual evaluations of every teacher and principal; and
- Developing new opportunities for students to use technology to engage in virtual learning.
Race to the Top expenditures to date are:
- Spent to date on Year One initiatives: $1.6 million; and
- Projected total spending in Year One of Race to the Top (by September 30): $3.5 million.
On August 24, 2010, Rhode Island become one of 11 states (plus the District of Columbia) to win a highly competitive Race to the Top grant. On receipt of this grant, RIDE worked with all districts to develop Scopes of Work and budget documents, which specify how Rhode Island will use the Race to the Top funds to transform education over the four years of the grant. RIDE submitted the Scopes of Work and budget documents to the U.S. Department of Education in November 2010, and the Department approved the Rhode Island plan in April 2011.
Further information about how Rhode Island is using the Race to the Top funds is available on the RIDE Web site, at: http://www.ride.ri.gov/commissioner/RaceToTheTop/default.aspx
Editorial note: Served straight up from a RIDE press release.