Gov. Rick Perry had called it “foolish and irresponsible” for Texas to apply for funds from the Obama administration’s signature education initiative. He feared Race to the Top funding would come with too many federal mandates on how to run classrooms in his state.
Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell also pledged not to apply, and education officials in Alaska, North Dakota and Vermont balked, too. That helped lead the U.S. Department of Education to change the rules this year: Let individual school districts and charter schools — not state leaders — choose to participate.
For the first time, schools even in fiercely conservative states were able to vie for federal money under the initiative that had previously awarded nearly $5 billion in statewide grants to 18 states and the District of Columbia.