2009 - Race to the Top

President Barack Obama opposed school vouchers, but was responsible for a competitive grant program called Race to the Top. The rules stipulated that each competing state submit a public school reform plan, taking into account a long list of Department of Education (DOE) policies. States that scored highest on the DOE’s point system would win millions of dollars to implement their plans. DOE criteria included not limiting the growth of charter schools (some states had capped the number). States were also required to give charter schools free use of public facilities or help charters pay for facilities. Public school supporters fiercely opposed the measures because they diverted resources from already stretched-to-the-limit education budgets. But state governments were desperate for money from anywhere; all but four eventually entered the contest. Obama’s Race to the Top gave the entire charter school enterprise a substantial boost.

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