A race to the middle

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Hoping to make some gains in the second round of Race to the Top, state lawmakers are suddenly in the mood to pass a number of education reform bills, targeting the competition criteria that cost them a prized spot in the first round. Unfortunately, the fruits of their labor are not all that impressive.

The South Dakota legislature patted themselves on the back this month with a change in teacher evaluations, requiring schools to evaluate teachers every other year. The content requirements stay exactly the same. There are none.

Michigan's budget bill includes $1.7 million for implementing the education reform bill passed late last year, which includes a hotline teachers can call if their students don't have supplies.

Washington State passed a bill this month to bump tenure from two years to three - with the result that Washington will catch up to the 32 other states (see here, pgs. 176-177) with a three-year requirement. The Maryland General Assembly is looking to make an identical move. None of the states seem all that eager to stand out from the crowd. Accordingly, they may find rising to the top of the pile a slow crawl.