G ov. Rick Perry has announced that Texas will not apply for the second round of federal Race to the Top education funds.
Texas' application would be penalized by the U.S. Department of Education for refusing to commit to adopting national curriculum standards and test or incurring related ongoing costs.
"This administration's attempt to bait states into adopting national standards is an effort to undermine states' authority to determine how their students are educated, and is clearly aimed at circumventing laws prohibiting national standards," Gov. Perry said. "Abandoning state standards and adopting new nationalized standards would cost Texas taxpayers $3 billion, and would likely weaken the rigorous college- and career-ready standards and assessments already in place in our state."
Since Texas became one of the first states to forgo participating in the first round of RTTT, other states, teachers and education groups nationwide have questioned the U.S. Department of Education's motives and goals. For example, Virginia, originally enthusiastic about the program, recently announced it would not seek RTTT funding because its curriculum standards are far superior to the proposed national standards.
Texas' curriculum standards, which determine what students are taught in Texas classrooms, are authorized by elected state legislators and set by the elected State Board of Education . The SBOE recently adopted one of the nation's first college- and career-ready curriculum standards in core subjects after receiving widespread input from Texas education and business leaders. The state was recently praised in Education Week magazine for its adoption of college- and career-ready standards, and for holding schools accountable for ensuring students are college-ready.
While Texas could be eligible for up to $700 million in this round of RTTT funding, it would cost Texas taxpayers upwards of $3 billion to realign the education system to conform to the U.S. Department of Education's curriculum standards.
"Though additional funds for Texas schools would be welcome, the funds available are not worth the policy changes, including more emphasis on high-stakes testing, that a competitive application would require," said Jeri Stone, Executive Director and General Counsel, Texas Classroom Teachers Association.