OLYMPIA -- Gov. Chris Gregoire, Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn and others were trying to make lemonade Tuesday morning out of the federal government's announcement that Washington didn't make the list of finalists for Race To The Top.
All that work that was put into the application process can now be used as a roadmap to make Washington schools better, Gregoire, Dorn and state Education Board Chairman Jeff Vincent said in a prepared statement:
"When we put together our application, we were committed, win or lose, to making sure we would carry out education reform our way, the Washington way. Race to the Top enabled us to spend time creating a road map to our education reform efforts through a draft plan that reflected the work of many diverse groups as well as the good work started by our most recent education laws. We will finalize the plan this fall and use it to prioritize and allocate resources as we move ahead with our state education reform efforts."
Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, the chairwoman of the Senate Early Learing and K-12 Education Committee, also was putting the best face on it:“Although we were not identified as a finalist in the RTTT competition, we will not waver in our work towards successful education reform.”
And from Washington Education Association President Mary Lindquist:"...the steps we have already taken in preparation for Race to the Top money set a framework for investing in a stronger public schools system. The application process itself proves that we can and will continue to work together to continuously improve public education across Washington."
Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center, issued sort of a "told ya so" statement, calling Washington's cut from the team no surprise. The bill passed by the Legislature didn't allow for innovative or charter schools, she said, create a rigorous enough evaluation process for teachers, make it easy enough for the state to turn around failng schools or assign good teachers to poor schools.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan talked about a quiet revolution in naming the finalist states, she noted: "Well, that revolution has clearly not reached the borders of Washington state, which continues to trap generations of children in second-rate schools."
Race to the Top is a competitive program, and states have to submit plans to meet certain goals to improve their schools. Tuesday morning the feds announced that 18 states and the District of Columbia are finalists and move on to further competition for the $3 billion.