Hawaii wins $75 million in Race to the Top funds for education

August 24, 2010, 8:09 AM HST · Updated August 24, 8:09 AM
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Hawaii is among an elite list of 10 states and the District of Columbia that will receive Race to the Top school funding.  The U.S. Department of Education made the announcement this morning as part of a second round of picks in the school reform grant competition.  The winners will share in the $3.4 billion funding.  Hawaii’s share is $75 million.

Governor Linda Lingle this morning called the funding a “stepping stone” that will allow the state to begin work on education reform.  Lingle said, “Hawai‘i has a tremendous opportunity to make the systemic changes needed to raise performance in the classroom so students are prepared for college and their careers.”  “I am especially excited about our pledge to have 100 percent of high school graduates ready for a career and college without the need for post secondary remediation programs,” said Lingle.

Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) this morning also hailed the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to award Hawaii in Phase II of the Race to the Top competition.

“Hawaii won this grant by improving its score by almost 100 points, the biggest gain of any of the winners. The hard work Hawaii’s education leaders put in over the past several months truly paid off,” said Hirono, who is a member of the House Education and Labor Committee. “Hawaii won this highly competitive grant by bringing everyone to the table, including teachers, administrators, and union and community leaders.  I congratulate School Superintendant Kathy Matayoshi and her team. This morning’s announcement validates the state school system’s efforts to implement innovative school reforms that will help Hawaii’s keiki,” said Hirono.

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Earlier this month, when Hawaii emerged as one of 19 finalists vying for $3.4 billion in federal education support, the state’s five member education team raced to Washington DC to present the merits of Hawaii’s education reform plans in person.

Race to the Top is President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s program designed to spur reforms in state and local district K-12 education. It is funded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The highly competitive federal grant will help Hawaii implement its plan to strengthen standards and assessments, use data to target instruction, further support effective teachers and leaders, as well as turn around the lowest-performing schools.

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