** “As passed by Congress, the legislation language for Race to the Top invited states to put forward detailed plans to improve data systems, adopt ‘career-and-college ready’ standards and tests, hire great teachers and principals, and turn around low-performing schools. The Obama administration could have told the states, ‘Put forward your best ideas, and we’ll fund the most promising.’ Such a strategy would have taken federalism seriously and funded states committed to their proposals.

Instead, the administration came up with 19 ‘priorities’ that states would be required to address. The priorities were a pedantic list, including professional development, the ‘equitable distribution’ of good teachers and so on. Perhaps most tellingly, the administration let states know they could pretty much ace three priorities if they promised to adopt the brand-new Common Core curriculum and its federally funded tests. Race to the Top wound up relying on an application process which required states to compile hundreds of jargon-laden pages in an attempt to convince the reviewers they would do what the administration wanted.” ~ Frederick M. Hess, educator and author

** “Waivers gave states room to breathe. But what’s left feels extremely mess. At this point, I couldn’t even begin to define what federal K-12 policy is in the age of waivers. It seems incoherent.” ~ Andy Smarick, New Jersey deputy education commission in 2011

** “They [the Obama administration] made so-called high-stakes testing much higher-stakes. That’s placed all other reforms at risk, including their precious Common Core.” ~ Margaret Spelling, architect of the 2001 No Child Left Behind law

** “That educators must now send out a million letters to families here [Washington] that all of the state’s K-12 schools are failing has got to be the lowest point yet in the drive to reform public education. It’s definitely the most absurd point. But maybe it’s also a turning point. Under the folly of the federal No Child Left Behind law, schools will be judged failing unless 100 percent of students have passed state reading and math tests. That level of perfection is as rare as with kids as with adults, so it effectively means all our schools are failing.” ~ Danny Westneat, The Seattle Times