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N.J. to claim Race to the Top consolation money

education050911_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Despite losing out in the Race to the Top competition a week ago, New Jersey will be seeing some education funding after all.

Federal education officials announced that seven states that did not win education improvement funding last year will share almost $200 million because they had all been finalists in earlier rounds of Race to the Top.

According to an Associated Press report in the Press of Atlantic City, New Jersey received $37.9 million. States in the competition proposed to improve principal and teacher evaluation programs, and showed plans for improving their science, technology, and math instruction.

New Jersey’s funding was to be used to improve teachers' professional development, fund districts participating in the programs, and to design new academic standards.

"Over the past month, we have heard support from districts across the state for this type of model curriculum to ensure that the Common Core State Standards move from a concept in Trenton to a tool for every classroom," Chris Cerf, New Jersey's acting education commissioner, said in a statement, according to the Huffington Post.

But New Jersey Education Association spokesman Steve Wollmer called the funding "less than a drop in the bucket." According to NJ.com, he said, "It eludes me how this will have a lasting impact."

The New York Times reported that Florida and New York were each awarded $700 million in last year’s competition. Hawaii received a $75 million grant, but recently got a letter from the federal Education Department warning that it may lose its Race to the Top grant if it does not show educational improvement.

Race to the Top is set to continue in 2012. It will have $500 million more in funds, and school districts will also be invited into the competition.

 

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