Educators Anxious about Federal Funding
Byline: Melissa Jenco firstname.lastname@example.org
While local school districts wouldn't mind getting additional federal dollars, they aren't exactly racing to be subjected to additional federal standards.
Roughly two dozen educators gathered Thursday to talk about the Race to the Top federal grant program and other educational issues during a roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, a Hinsdale Republican.
The federal government plans to dole out $4.35 billion in stimulus money to a handful of states to reform educational standards, data systems and teacher training and boost student achievement.
Biggert, a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee, said she is encouraged by the program's focus on data systems and professional development.
However, she is concerned about a "pay for performance" model and doesn't want to encourage teachers to structure their lesson plans around the standardized tests their students will take.
Dave Griffith, president of the Naperville Unit Education Association, has heard similar concerns from teachers.
"As soon as you hear the term 'student performance, teacher evaluation,' people leap right away and it's going to take awhile to reorient people's thinking in a different way in terms of what is student performance," he said. "(They've given) no definition. There's a big 'trust me' hanging over this."
He and others also said they already see teachers teaching to the tests used for the No Child Left Behind program. Paul Zaander, superintendent of Downers Grove Grade School District 58 said he feels there is too much focus on producing "workers of tomorrow" and boosting math and science to the detriment of areas like foreign language and art. …