The Education & Law Project joined the UNC Center for Civil Rights and other partners in calling on the Department of Education to ensure that proposed Race to the Top District (RTT-D) guidelines for distributing grants prioritize the development and maintenance of high quality, racially and socioeconomically diverse public schools.
The comments point out that the RTT-D guidelines entirely omit consideration of racial and socio-economic diversity in schools, despite overwhelmingly one-sided research outcomes on the topic and previous recognition by the Department of Education itself that integration is a funding priority.
The Department’s RTT-D proposal emphasizes individual-focused education and improving high-needs schools without the necessary parallel of promoting diversity on a school or system-wide level. This limited approach encourages districts to concentrate students in racially identifiable low-achieving schools and programs to procure funding for remediation. Instead, the Department should incentivize districts to maintain a system-wide commitment to integration and broad-based student achievement at the district, school, and classroom level.
Additionally, RTT-D contains a requirement excluding districts that serve less than 2,500 students from applying individually for grants , putting many of North Carolina’s highest need rural districts at a significant competitive disadvantage. While these smaller districts can apply jointly as a consortium, the onerous administrative requirement of inter-county coordination could delay or deprive resources from the state’s neediest students.