Colorado Economic Recovery and Accountability

Press Release - Race to the Top Strategy


Monday, April 27, 2009


Ellen Dumm, 303 866-6361 (office), 303 829-0194 (cell),

Gov. Ritter & Lt. Gov. O'Brien Outline Strategy for Race to the Top Education Dollars

Gov. Bill Ritter and Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien today outlined a strategy of innovation that could potentially bring millions of federal dollars of Race to the Top grant money to Colorado's K-12 education system beginning in 2010. Nationally, there will be $4.35 billion available to states deemed to be top-tier in education innovation.  These funds are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that President Obama signed into law in February.

Click the following links to hear the remarks from the meeting: Gov. Ritter, Lt. Gov. O'Brien, and Commissioner Dwight Jones.

"This is an opportunity to make a huge investment in our education system that could transform the way students learn," said Gov. Bill Ritter. "Colorado's Race to the Top proposal should lay out a roadmap of how we intend to improve the learning environment of every child, rich or poor. We need to be bold in our approach and build on the innovation from the last two years.


"We believe that education isn't for education's sake. It's about people being able to change their lives in a meaningful way."


Lt. Gov. O'Brien, who co-chairs the P-20 Council on education reform, stressed that a wide spectrum of stakeholders in the education field will have to work over the next year to find a path to a new direction. Over the last two years, the P-20 Council has recommended several changes that the legislature enacted into law and that put Colorado in line with Race to the Top goals.

"This will require vision and courage to create a breakthrough on how our students can achieve," said Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien. "It's not business as usual and it's not tweaking around the edges. This is potentially a transformative moment and could change the way we look at schools, students, teaching, and how we evaluate education."

"The Department of Education (CDE) stands ready to help develop and write a successful Race to the Top grant application," said Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones. "Race to the Top awards will be given to states that demonstrate a clear willingness to challenge the status quo. CDE is prepared for that conversation and the department will do what it can to ensure that the grant will have the impact we all expect--and need."

About 200 people attended this morning's session at Auraria campus where leaders outlined the strategy to be used over the next year. The attendees were asked to join one of four work groups that will make recommendations for the proposal in the fall.

The focus of Race to the Top is divided into four areas:

  • Ensuring that quality teachers are spread equitably throughout the state
  • Better use of data to track students', schools' and educators' improvement
  • Creating international benchmark standards and assessments
  • Strategies for improving low-performing schools

The deadline for the first phase of the Race to the Top grant proposal is October 1, 2009. Ten percent of the funds will be awarded to an initial group of states in early 2010. A second phase grant proposal for 90% of the funds will be in spring of 2010. Implementation of the Race to the Top grant is expected to take place over the next four years. Working groups will begin meeting this summer to make recommendations for the first phase of the proposal.

Learn More about Race to the Top.