[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced today that the Department of Education has named Illinois among nine finalists for a continuation of its Race to the Top competition. The Race to the Top Fund provides competitive grants to encourage and reward states like Illinois that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform. In 2010, Illinois was a finalist in both rounds of competition, but did not win a grant.
"Maintaining the status quo in our schools is simply not acceptable," said Durbin. "We need to elevate the quality of our schools, improve instruction and boost college graduation rates. We owe it to our children to give them stronger skills to compete in the global economy."
The Department of Education announced that the nine finalist states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and South Carolina – will be eligible to compete for $200 million in additional funds this year. As part of the application process, Illinois was asked to document past education reform successes as well as outline plans to extend reforms, build a workforce of highly effective educators, create systems to support student achievement and turn around low-performance schools. Illinois will now work with the U.S. Department of Education to update the blueprint for raising educational quality in the state to reflect a more limited scope of work.
In order to support states, such as Illinois, that have demonstrated capacity and commitment around bold reform plans, the Department will make the $200 million available in a competition among Race to the Top finalists that did not win grants in the first two rounds of the 2010 competition.