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Vermont chooses NOT to apply for federal education grant

first_imgThe State of Vermont will not be applying for the second round of the federal Race to the Top grant, the Vermont Department of Education announced today.The highly competitive grant program, financed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), requires states to agree to very specific strategies, such as linking teacher pay to student performance, investing in charter schools and implementing turnaround models that could require the removal of principals in a data-driven school-ranking process.Only two states, Delaware and Tennessee, received funds in the first round of grants (totaling over $600 million). Vermont did not apply in the first round.“We do not make this decision lightly,” said Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca. “Vermont continues to struggle with the financial impacts of the recession, and our school districts have carried a heavy share of that impact. We believe that by focusing on this grant we would have to alter the course we have set for education, with absolutely no guarantee that we would be successful. We don’t think that makes sense for our schools, our teachers or for Vermont students.”“The strategies required in Race to the Top may be entirely appropriate for some states,” said Vilaseca. “But Vermont’s strengths and challenges require different strategies. Our approach to improvement involves the entire system, PreK through 12 and beyond, and a statewide system of support for all schools. The focus of Race to the Top is not aligned with our statewide approach, and it would require significant policy and legislative changes that are not consistent with the good work happening across the state.”Because Race to the Top is based on a point system that favors states with extensive data gathering systems, established teacher pay-for-performance agreements, existing state legislation for charter schools and broad indications of support from school boards, superintendents and education associations, it is unlikely that Vermont would be seriously considered for these specific grant funds, Vilaseca said.Vermont currently does not have a statewide evaluation system of teachers and principals nor is there an existing system of tying teacher compensation to student achievement. In addition, Vermont does not have any charter school legislation nor any charter schools currently operating. The Vermont Department of Education recently conducted an informal, non-binding survey asking its 280 school districts if they were “likely” or “not likely” to support the application. Based on the sample of returns, it did not appear there was widespread support for the initiative.“We will continue to work with education leaders in moving Vermont’s public education system forward,” said Deputy Commissioner Rae Ann Knopf. “We plan to pursue several initiatives that are already underway in Vermont, such as national common core standards, the statewide system of school support, longitudinal data systems and alternate pathways to licensure. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners on advancing the tenets of the Transformation Policy Commission’s Opportunities to Learn and the department’s Roots of Success documents. This is a time of thoughtful and collaborative change in Vermont education, and it is important now – more than ever – that we focus on what is truly working for Vermont students.”Ken Page, Executive Director of the Vermont Principals Association, released the following statement: “It is clear to us that the Commissioner of Education, and indeed the entire Vermont Education community, has weighed this decision carefully and well. The Vermont Principals’ Association supports the decision not to pursue this one-size-fits-all approach to school improvement. We are proud that Vermont schools are considered some of the best in the nation. Our schools will improve, not by simply throwing money at the problem, not by blaming and shaming school leaders and their communities, but by a concerted and deliberate effort by school personnel to work together to systematically address areas of need. The 21st century demands that we have a curriculum that is wider than just math and reading: our students must be highly skilled, highly motivated and well-rounded in all curricular areas. The Race to the Top competition is a distraction from the real work that must be done by Vermont’s fine teachers and leaders.”Vermont education officials noted that other states are also considering passing on the opportunity of applying for these particular funds. The Kansas State Board of Education voted last week 9-0 not to apply for the funds.Source: Vermont DOE. 4.26.2010###last_img read more

Mignolet relishing Reds challenge

first_img The Belgium international completed his move from Sunderland on Tuesday night after putting pen to paper on a long-term contract, and he is set to battle against Reina and Brad Jones for a starting berth. Reina has been closely linked with a return to old club Barcelona over the last few months, but the Spaniard insists he sees his future at Liverpool. Manager Brendan Rodgers has also stressed 25-year-old Mignolet has not been signed as a replacement. “It’s a challenge, but that’s what you want. You want to play in the big games, you want to play for a big club and to play with pressure,” said Mignolet, whose transfer fee could rise to more than £11million. Press Association “I’m very confident in myself and my own abilities and I can’t wait to get the first clean sheet under my belt. I’ve never been a nervous person. I’m quite confident in my own abilities.” He added: “Competition can only be a good thing. I’ve been in big competitions wherever I’ve been – in Belgium with the national team and in Sunderland with Craig Gordon and Keiren Westwood, who are international goalies. Now it’s the same again with Pepe and with Brad. “It’s only a good thing – to be competitive and to train as hard as you can, it can only bring the best out of you. “Pepe is an experienced goalkeeper who has proven a lot over the years. I’m looking forward to working with him, the same as I am with Brad and the goalie coach.” Mignolet, who becomes the Reds’ fourth signing of the summer following Manchester City’s Kolo Toure, Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas and Sevilla’s Luis Alberto, also refuses to be daunted by the step up to Liverpool. “It’s a big club and when you arrive it’s a big thing,” he told liverpoolfc.com. “I’m very pleased to be here and I’m looking forward to getting started.” Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio, meanwhile, thanked keeper Mignolet for his efforts at the Stadium of Light. The Italian told the club’s official website, www.safc.com: “Simon is a fantastic footballer, a fantastic professional and a fantastic lad and I would like to personally thank him for his contribution to the team last season.” center_img New Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is looking forward to the challenge of trying to supplant Jose Reina as the Reds’ number one.last_img read more