Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Celebratory Road Trip for Education Secretary

No, Education Secretary Arne Duncan is not a candidate for office. But yes, his bus tour through Maine, New Hampshire and other Northeast states had all the trappings of a political campaign.

Mr. Duncan’s tour, coinciding with back-to-school season, was billed as a way to honor teachers. But the road trip also felt like a victory lap after last week’s announcement that nine states and the District of Columbia had won the Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s most prized education initiative.

The competition was the rarest of rarities: a government grant program that became a household phrase, and brought arcane education policy onto morning television shows.

By the Education Department’s count, the competition for $4.3 billion in federal funds at a time of state budget crises prodded 34 states to change laws or policies to align themselves with the administration’s goals for change.

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