Florida Racing to Top in Education Reform

In case you missed the terrific news, Central Florida school districts recently learned they will benefit from Florida’s share of Race to the Top funding, which is likely to secure up to $700 million for the state over the next four years.

Funded through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Race to the Top is a competitive grant program that encourages and rewards states that are implementing significant educational reforms in the areas of standards and assessments, data collection, teacher effectiveness and progress in turning around struggling schools.

Sixty-five of Florida’s 67 school districts—including all Central Florida districts—signed Florida’s Race to the Top application.

In a recent Orlando Sentinel article, Orange County Public School District Superintendent Ron Blocker said the funding would “not solve our economic woes,” but it would help pay for reform efforts that could not be accomplished otherwise.

Working out new evaluation and pay systems will be challenging, but Blocker said he was optimistic and eager to gather teacher feedback as that effort begins.

The article also reported that Florida intends to accelerate past reform efforts, with plans to:

  • Increase the number of students who graduate from high school and go on to college
  • Cut the achievement gap between white and minority students
  • Improve the state’s performance on national achievement tests

While the results of Florida’s educational reforms will be months—even years—down the road, it’s evident that Race to the Top funding is a significant boost for fixing the state’s flawed educational system.

As United Way continues to seek new solutions for improving the health, education and well-being of children here in our own community, we’re excited about the news and are hopeful it will move our students closer to the head of the class.

JahKiya Bell
MNM Director
United Way Community Investment


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