Local teacher unions are refusing to sign on with district Race to the Top plans. The reason? Teacher evaluations. Failure to get unions to sign on to reform plans means the Los Angeles Unified School District in California and the Clark County School District in Nevada both will be ineligible to win $40 million in federal funding.
The irony here is that unions are typically the ones pushing for more money and funding, but if they can’t have a say in where it goes, or if it puts their members in jeopardy of losing their job, then all of a sudden they aren’t screaming for more funding for education.
Whether or not these districts’ plans were truly reform-minded or not is another issue, and union refusal to sign on doesn’t necessarily indicate these plans were heavy on reform since in both districts unions were already experiencing disagreements pre-Race to the Top proposals.
The bigger point, however, is what we can learn from the first Race to the Top competitions. It isn’t federal grants that will bring about reform, but on-the-ground work from parents, advocates, and legislative leaders that can bring about real change.