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The Race to the Top program is the Obama administration’s chief attempt at reforming the American educational system. The program is basically a grant awards system that rewards states for making positive changes to their school systems and achieving certain benchmarks. Now, in my ideal world, not only would the Department of Education cease to exist but also the entire public school system. In our present circumstances, those ideals are a fantasy, so given the limits of the flawed system within which we operate, I don’t think Race to the Top is a half bad idea as a sort of “wager on the strong.”

After months of mostly positive feedback from just about everyone outside of luddite teachers’ unions, Race to the Top is suddenly catching flak for being racist, classist and any number of other nasty things. I heard Dr. Cornel West make this case on NPR’s Talk of the Nation on Monday. Yesterday, People’s World leveled similar accusations against the program. Granted, West is a member of the Democratic Socialists and People’s World is a communist newspaper and I might have never even made the connection if not for some subconscious confirmation bias on my part, but the racist argument is seen as credible enough that NPR was willing to air it. (more…)

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