Lt. governor: Colo. ahead in race for school funds |

Lt. governor: Colo. ahead in race for school funds

DENVER, Colorado – Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien says Colorado is off to a good start in trying to get federal stimulus funds for education.

O’Brien said Friday that officials believe Colorado can qualify for up to $500 million next spring because of the progress the state has made to improve struggling schools.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan issued guidelines Friday on how states can win the money in the federal government’s “Race to the Top” competition.

O’Brien said Colorado is ahead of many other states in that competition and already has committees in place to tackle the four areas of concern outlined by Duncan and President Barack Obama: assessing teacher effectiveness, improving low-performing schools and assessing and tracking student performance. The first committees will meet Aug. 12.

“Colorado is ready to go to work on the proposal. We are pleased to have connected our partners at the Department of Education with so many high-level, thoughtful people to help us craft an innovative proposal to move Colorado’s education system forward,” O’Brien said.

Education Commissioner Dwight Jones said Colorado has made progress getting a buy-in from the Colorado Education Association, the union representing teachers across the state, a thorny issue that has plagued other states. However, he said the plan needs more work.

“We know that a strong condition of being successful in the ‘Race to the Top’ application has to do with connecting teachers directly to students and their academic achievements. We have been very optimistic based on the unified approach and communication that’s been going on in this state that we’ll have strong teacher buy-in,” Jones said.

The CEA did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The Obama administration said it will not award money to states that bar student performance data from being linked to teacher evaluations. Several states, including California, New York and Wisconsin, have that prohibition.

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