Updated Aug. 25, 2010
TRENTON – New Jersey did not qualify for federal education funds under the competitive “Race To The Top” education program.
The failure was due — at least in part — to a mistake on its application. A question (found on PDF page 260) asks for financial data for fiscal years 2008 and 2009. New Jersey officials used fiscal year 2011 information in their response (on PDF page 261), which did not address the question.
“The Christie administration must make a full and transparent accounting of how this mistake occurred and what it plans to do to prevent it in the future,” said Assembly Education Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) on Wednesday. “This incompetence cannot stand. Anything less is simply another slap in the face to New Jersey taxpayers.”
New Jersey was one of 19 finalists vying for the second-round of Race to the Top grants. If the federal government had approved the state’s grant application, New Jersey would have received approximately $400 million out of $4.35 billion available through the program.
“While I am disappointed that New Jersey, having been chosen as a finalist, was not ultimately selected as a recipient at the end of this highly competitive process, our commitment to bold, meaningful reform remains firm,” Department of Education Commissioner Bret Schundler said Tuesday.
“This process has allowed us to move quickly and vigorously to craft much-needed education reforms, while securing the unanimous, bipartisan support of the legislature for the plan embodied in our Race to the Top application. This fall we must act swiftly to implement the education reforms the people of New Jersey deserve and demand to transform schools in our state that are failing, improve the quality of education for every New Jersey child and challenge the status quo wherever it is necessary,” Schundler said.
New Jersey School Boards Association Executive Director Marie S. Bilik agreed that the strategies included in New Jersey’s grant application should go forward.
“The innovative reforms included in our state’s Race to the Top application can pay dividends in the classroom, regardless of today’s decision by the federal government,” she said.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the winners are: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.
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