Getting $100 million in Race to the Top funds from the federal government is great, as long as it is spent on projects that matter.


Delaware may be dubbed the First State, yet I’ve never really seen it come in first for anything. Monday’s announcement that Delaware is one of two states to receive the first round of federal education funding came as a bit of a surprise.

Through the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top funding, Delaware will receive $100 million over the next four years to revamp its testing system, and improve student and overall school performance.

This tells me one of two things: Either state and school officials and the Department of Education put together one killer application, so good that there was no way they could deny Delaware funding. Or the federal education folks took one look at us and said, “They need help — desperately.”

I’m hoping it’s the former, but we can’t ignore the latter. And who knows? Maybe it’s both.

There are many things to like about Race to the Top, and surprisingly, it has little to do with money, although $100 million deserves a big “Thank you.” Under Race to the Top, schools that aren’t meeting yearly goals can be shut down by the DOE, administrators replaced, teachers fired, etc., and the school restructured from the bottom up.

A smart business owner wouldn’t let his or her life’s work be run into the ground by a manager or employee, and our schools shouldn’t operate that way either. If teachers and administrators aren’t making the grade, then someone who can and will should be brought in. It only makes perfect sense.

It’s about time the DOE has policies with some teeth to them.

It’s important to understand that there are lots of great teachers and administrators throughout the state, but in reality, we can’t afford one weak link.

All it takes for a student to fall behind is one bad year with an unqualified teacher or in a sub-par district, and he or she is forced to play catch-up for years to come.

What will make or break this Race to the Top program will be the relationships between school officials and parents. Too often parents expect the school to take on the role as mom or dad in every way, from standard discipline to homework help. No amount of money will turn a school system around if the problem of parental apathy persists.

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We’re not usually in the business of patting ourselves on the back, but the Dover Post recently won a few awards in the 2009 Best of GateHouse contest, which is a competition among all of our parent company’s newspapers throughout the company.

Out of 750 entrants, the Dover Post, along with our sister papers the Community News, Sussex Countian and Middletown Transcript, was named a finalist in the Newspaper of the Year non-daily category.

The Dover Post also won top prize for best entertainment page/section and best special section, White Lace & Promises, our semi-annual bridal guide. Carl Hott, our assistant manager of design and pagination, was named a finalist for Designer of the Year.