(CNSNews.com) – Testifying in front of Congress on President Donald Trump’s new budget for education, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Tuesday that she will not follow the footsteps of Obama’s “Race to the Top” grant program.
James Lankford (R-Ok) asked Devos whether the $1 billion increase in Title I funds she proposed, dedicated to “furthering options for children to unlock success,” will be different from Race to the Top, a grant announced in 2009 by Former President Barack Obama and Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
According to the website of the U.S. Department of Education, Title I provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools highly attended by children from low-come families to ensure that every child meet state standards.
“There was a concern in this dais that [the program] was really a requirement from the government that, if you want these dollars, then you’ll have to do these curricula.” Lankford said. “Do it our way and, if you don’t do it our way, you can’t get the dollars that came out of your state to come back to your state.”
But according to DeVos, her proposal will allow individual states more flexibility on educational procedures.
“It’s only if states want to, and local education agencies and authorities want to, attempt an experiment to allow students to attend other public schools in their region,” she said. “It is, no way, going to be mandated from the top that this has to happen or how it has to happen.”
The increase, Devos said, will serve as a financial aid if the students choose to utilize it. That is the framework around which states or local districts would be able to opt into or adopt, she said.
Lankford asked if the proposal would give instructions to those states or those entities on how to do curriculum, how to do teacher evaluations, how to do testing requirements.
“Not at all,” DeVos replied. “No, we’ve seen that movie; we’re not going to do that one again.”
A report by the Education Department on American’s schools under Race to the Top reveals that although the program was voluntary, 46 states and the District of Columbia applied.
“The administration used the money to encourage – Obama’s critics would say coerce – states to embrace its education policies, including charter schools, college and career-ready standards and evaluations of teachers using student test scores,” NPR Ed reported.