- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — Using money as bait, President Barack Obama challenged U.S. school districts Friday to raise their academic standards, improve teacher quality and allow more innovation if they want a chance at roughly $5 billion in new grants.

Obama said the broad goals are to give every child a chance to succeed and to boost the educational foundation of the nation’s economy. Yet the “Race to the Top” program is also specifically targeted at expanding reforms the administration wants, such as linking teacher pay to how well students do on tests.

“This competition will not be based on politics or ideology or the preferences of a particular interest group,” Obama said in an appearance at the Education Department. “Instead, it will be based on a simple principle: whether a state is ready to do what works.”

The president added: “Not every state will win and not every school district will be happy with the results. But America’s children, America’s economy, America itself will be better for it.”

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