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Milton teachers reject Race to the Top

Posted by Johanna Seltz  August 27, 2010 11:22 AM

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Milton schools won’t get a piece of the $250 million in federal education money awarded to the state last week because the union representing Milton teachers refused to participate in the Race to the Top program.

“The executive board of the Milton Educators Association took a principled stand against Race to the Top,” said union president Margaret Gibbons. “It was primarily because the board is opposed to tying teacher compensation and evaluation to a student’s test score.

“In addition, we [opposed] states competing for funding. The whole idea means winners and losers. We felt all public schools in all states should be fairly funded,” she said.

Race to the Top is an Obama administration initiative aimed at boosting student achievement and encouraging innovation, particularly in failing schools. Teacher and administrator evaluations are a key part of the program.

Massachusetts was among 10 states to win the money, which will be spread out over four years.

Governor Deval Patrick said the extra cash and related programs would help close the achievement gap between white students and students of colors, as well as those with special needs and those whose first language is not English.

The state required school systems to sign onto its Race to the Top application, with signatures of the local superintendent, school committee chair, and teachers’ union leader.

The head of Milton’s teachers’ union did not sign, so the town is not eligible for any of the federal money, said J.C. Considine, spokesman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Two hundred and seventy five of the state’s 393 school systems -- which includes charter schools -- are participating, Considine said.

Distribution of the money will be driven, for the most part, by the number of low-income children in a district, according to guidelines released by the state.

Schools in Boston, Springfield, Worcester, Lawrence, Holyoke, and Lynn would get millions of dollars from the grant.

Locally, other school districts participating in the Race to the Top include Randolph, Stoughton, Braintree, Marshfield, Rockland, Holbrook, Kingston, Hanover, Westwood, South Shore Charter School, South Shore Regional Vocational Technical School, and Foxboro Regional Charter School.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seelenfam@verizon.net.

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