Colorado Enters “Race to the Top” for Federal Education Dollars

After outlining some of the Obama administration’s education reform objectives last weekend, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is in Denver, Colorado, today to visit two schools and assess Colorado’s student-achievement data.

Colorado is considered one of many states with sufficient political clout to nab a share of the $4.35 billion in education stimulus money, but it lacks a clear track record of improvement. According to the Denver Post, graduation rates, literacy, and the number of minority students who attend college are below the national average.

Thus, the state is trying to outline a plan for how it would allocate the additional resources and overhaul public education. Senator Michael Bennet, a former Denver Public Schools chief, has said that the state must be willing to try out a new education model. That model could include teacher performance monitoring, literacy standards starting at kindergarten, and greater power for principals to hire and fire liberally. Colorado doesn’t have much time, however, as the application for funds is due in August.