By Meagan L’Heureux,

Ann Lynch, Director of Field Services at UMF

Ann Lynch, Director of Field Services at UMF
(Photo by Meagan L’Heureux)

    President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top challenge helps teachers focus on personalized learning and integrating technology. The Race to the Top has also put a huge emphasis on test scores and seems to have shaken the education system.

   “Race To The Top came out of the federal legislation No Child Left Behind, and I think the intention behind Race To The Top was praiseworthy, in that it was intended to make educational opportunities for students in all of our public schools more equitable. I believe that there still are issues of inequity in our country and although No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top have tried to resolve these issues they may have created other problems,” said Ann Lynch, The Director of Field Services at UMF.

   Race to the Top is a program implemented to improve education across the United States through awarding a grant to the states that makes the most improvement towards better education.

   “President Barack Obama’s Race To The Top has influenced many facets of our country’s education systems,” Lynch said. “Some of the changes this funding has provided have benefited students and teachers in our schools while some of the initiatives funded with Race To The Top and other federally funded initiatives have not benefitted students or teachers. Some could argue that even for the States who were not able to obtain funding through Race To The Top it proved the incentive to examine what was working and what was not working for their students’ education,” she continued.

   “Race To The Top has been one of the drivers for examining our educational systems, our educational practices and the important roles of the teacher. I think this is one of the benefits that is a result of this piece of legislation,” Lynch said.

    “The use of technologies in the education process, the complexities of the teaching/learning processes and the importance of personalizing the educational experiences of students are vital considerations as we move forward in the 21st century,” Lynch stated.

   Rachel Purgeil, a senior and education major at UMF feels “like it is a step in the right direction.”

   “The way I see this program,” Purgiel states, “is that the goals it is trying to meet are goals that I value and strongly feel should be focused on in the field of education.”

    “The testing frenzy that has occurred in our country as a result of No Child Left Behind has caused in my opinion more harm than good,” commented Lynch. “The idea of accountability through standardized testing is pervasive and includes every aspect of our education systems: PK -12 students, schools, teachers, administrators and teacher education.  Educational testing has become a very lucrative business. Accountability is important, but there can be and should be multi ways of showing how schools and teachers are accountable for their students’ learning, growth and development,” she said.

   Purgiel also had some hesitations about the Race to the Top. “I am not sure it is the best way to improve schools in America,” she said.

   “I feel like schools that do not have enough resources to begin with are going to have a hard time competing with the schools that do have the resources, which is not going to result in a change of dynamic,” said Purgiel.

   Overall, “If the challenge works as it is intended, I think it will result in beneficial reform, Purgiel said. “I think it is good that schools will be pushed towards recruiting and supporting effective teachers especially because these teachers are what can make the biggest change in students schooling.”