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What’s next for Race to the Top winners?

August 26, 2010 - 0 Comments

Since the Race to the Top contest has concluded, with nine states and the District of Columbia receiving 3.4 billion in federal education dollars, a lot of people are wondering what they are going to do now. The winners, who will get between $75 million and $700 million each were: D.C., Hawaii, Rhode Island, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, New York and Florida.

So, what will they do with the funding?

One thing that many of these states have in common is an amazing socioeconomic dichotomy. Some regions are large cities, surrounded by suburbs. Other parts are rural where farms can outnumber traffic lights.

This creates a situation where different resources aren’t always equally available. Rural areas may not have large enough student populations to warrant having the same courses and teaching resources. Urban areas often find themselves with larger fish to fry and often can’t afford to provide everything needed to educate the sheer number of children in their region.

Instead of activities like paying stipends to parents for attending events, these states should use their Race to the Top funds to invest in technologies that will level the playing field, such as video teleconferencing (VTC). By implementing VTC in schools, teachers and other educational resources can be shared between schools. This means that high-performing teachers can be delivered via video to under-performing schools across the state. Or, foreign language and arts teachers can be delivered to rural schools where they are unable to hire specialist faculty.

In addition, these technologies cut costs for schools and help them operate more efficiently for more students, which means future federal funds may be unnecessary.

Not all of the states facing the dichotomy outlined above are receiving Race to the Top, though. New Jersey is the perfect example of a state that has concentrated urban areas (ie: Newark, Camden, Trenton, etc.) surrounded by suburbs and rural areas (it is the Garden State after all). New Jersey didn’t qualify for a handful of reasons, but they could still benefit immensely from implementing VTC in the state’s schools, especially considering their ongoing budget issues.

Luckily for New Jersey and other states, there are other grants and funding available. If your state is thinking of acquiring VTC or other technologies that could help cut education costs and improve the educational experience, programs like eRate may be able to help make them available at very little cost.

VTC is breaking down barriers between students and a better education. Drop us an email or comment if you’d like to know more, or would like to work with the TANDBERG grant team to identify funding and grant opportunities that might be available for your state.

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