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July 27, 2010

Race for education $$$ follows political turbulence

Maryland is among 19 finalists in a U.S. Department of Education competition for hundreds of millions of dollars -- welcome news to the state officials who once disagreed about when even to enter the "Race to the Top."

The Sun's Liz Bowie reports that Education Secretary Arne Duncan is likely to pick about a dozen states as winners by early September; Maryland stands to win $250 million.

"I can barely contain myself," said Nancy S. Grasmick, the state superintendent of schools. "We are so excited because there was tremendous work that went into this and it has such potential for our schools."

Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement that he is "honored" to be among the finalists. "To Maryland, this process has always been about more than simply a race for education dollars," he said.

Grasmick and O'Malley are expected to head to Washington to personally make their case for a slice of the $3.4 billion pie, Bowie reports.

But eight months ago, in the early days of the education contest, Grasmick and O'Malley differed on whether the state should enter the first round in January. Maryland was one of just 10 states that did not try for the money at that time. (Delaware and Tennessee won, sharing $600 million.)

O'Malley said Maryland, which routinely is at the head of the education class, nationally, should have applied. But Grasmick successfully argued that the state needed to make several legislative changes before it was able to submit a strong application.

This spring, the Maryland General Assembly passed several laws aimed at making the state more competitive for Race to the Top, including calling for student performance to be part of how teachers are evaluated.

Legislation to make it easier to launch charter schools -- another consideration in Race to the Top -- never really got off the ground. Forthcoming details about the Round 2 finalists could provide insight on how Maryland performed in each category, perhaps even forecasting Maryland's chances of winning.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 2:25 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Families, General Assembly 2010


Mark my words...If Martin wins re-election on November 2, 2010, Nancy's bags better be packed on November 3, 2010. Her days are numbered.

Martin did not have enough of "his people" on the State Board of Ed in 2006. However, all ten current members have been appointed or reappointed since the 2006 election.

Bye, bye Nancy. 19+ years at the helm is long enough for one person to hold the top spot. It is time for some new blood in the captain's seat. And all those current MSDE staff who are former Baltimore County administrators should also start shopping their resumes.

The Administration blocked charter school efforts and sent their officials in with the MSEA to lobby and/or testify against them in the Senate committees. When Maryland is not the lion's share winner this fall, there is only one person to blame and it's not Nancy Grasmick--the buck stops with Martin O'Malley.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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