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Democracy, Federal Power, and Education Reform
Nicholas Tampio, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University and the author of Deleuze’s Political Vision.
“On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act, of which $4.3 billion went to the U.S. Department of Education to administer Race to the Top, a competitive grant program that incentivized states to adopt college-and-career-ready standards in math and English Language Arts, participate in a testing consortium aligned to the standards, use test scores to evaluate teachers and administrators, and lift the cap on charter schools. Race to the Top dangled money to states at the height of the Great Recession on condition that they adopt several prominent ideas of the so-called ‘education reform’ movement. To be clear, many state and local politicians support education reform, as do certain business interests, civil rights organizations, and conservative think tanks. Still, Race to the Top was an unprecedented use of federal power to redesign the American education system: ‘by strategically deploying funds to cash-strapped states and massively increasing the public profile of a controversial set of education policies, the president managed to stimulate reforms that stalled in state legislatures [and] stood no chance of enactment in Congress.’”
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