Education leader talks reform to District 51

Colorado Education Commissioner Dwight Jones encouraged School District 51 leaders Monday to help the state join a nationwide competition for a chunk of $4 billion.

The “Race to the Top” competition will split $4 billion provided by the U.S. Department of Education among the first handful of states to develop comprehensive education reform strategies. The strategies will address standards and standardized tests, using data to guide classroom instruction, transforming struggling schools, and maintaining and encouraging teacher and administrator excellence.

Jones traveled Monday to Durango, Montrose, Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs to drum up support for Colorado to enter the Race to the Top. About 80 school districts have already shown an interest in forming and implementing reforms, and Jones hoped to pick up one more school district’s support in Grand Junction.

“It doesn’t hurt you a bit to say, ‘Let’s see where this goes,’ ” Jones said to a room of about 40 District 51 employees, including Superintendent Steve Schultz.

Jones said the state’s interest in the competition isn’t just about the money. It also coincides with current education reform efforts in Colorado.

“We’re not chasing some shiny penny — this supports the direction the state is taking,” he said.

Schultz said he’s leaning toward participating in the race efforts. The district is already committed to reform, he said.


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