Senator McKinney’s Statement on Race to the Top Rejection

July 27, 2010

State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield):

“The decision by the Federal Government to reject Connecticut’s Race to the Top application was disappointing, but predictable. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan warned us that ‘watered-down proposals with lots of consensus won’t win. And proposals that drive real reform will win.’ Republicans fought for the changes we needed to win the grant, but Democrats stopped real reform by bending to special interests. Democrat legislative leaders bear the most responsibility for this failure. While Democrat legislators in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island enacted necessary reforms, our Democratic leadership in Connecticut failed to take necessary steps to position our state for a Race to the Top grant.

“Commissioner Mark McQuillan and the State Department of Education should also consider themselves on notice. The commissioner’s endorsement of the Democrats’ watered down education bill; his over-confidence in our application; and his failure to fight for additional measures that would have helped to ensure our success has made him an obstructionist to necessary education reform as well.

“It is disappointing when 19 of 35 states that applied for this grant were successful, including traditionally low-performing states like Georgia and Louisiana, but we were not because our reform package was so weak.”

Senate Republicans urged Democrat leaders to take up a number of additional reforms, including “Money Follows the Student” and teacher evaluations more directly tied to student achievement. Senator McKinney said both proposals, which were summarily rejected by Democrats, would have improved Connecticut’s Race to the Top application.