WASHINGTON, July 24 (UPI) -- The federal government Friday set U.S. states against each other to compete for $4.35 billion in education reform and innovation funds.
President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the $4.35 billion Race to the Top competitive grants.
"This competition will not be based on politics, ideology, or the preferences of a particular interest group," Obama said in a speech at the Department of Education. "Instead, it will be based on a simple principle -- whether a state is ready to do what works. We will use the best data available to determine whether a state can meet a few key benchmarks for reform -- and states that outperform the rest will be rewarded with a grant.
"Not every state will win and not every school district will be happy with the results. But America's children, America's economy, and America itself will be better for it."
The program is part of an overall $10 billion in education grant money available through the 2009 budget and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The program stresses adoption of international benchmark standards and assessments, development and retention of effective teachers, data systems that can be used to improve practices and the turnaround of low-performing schools.
"We're looking to drive reform, reward excellence and dramatically improve our nation's schools," Duncan said.