MUSKEGON, Mich. - Tuesday is the new deadline for school districts and unions to sign off on Race to the Top reform plans, according to The Muskegon Chronicle, but school administrators told the paper they remain frustrated and confused.

Originally, the Michigan Department of Education required each school district to submit a "memorandum of understanding" signed by the superintendent, school board president and local union president agreeing to implement certain reform measures, The Chronicle reported. Those will be used to bolster Michigan's application for up to $400 million in federal education dollars.

First the unions balked, saying the reform could affect their bargaining rights, according to The Chronicle. Next the districts were given a newly worded memo, but then some school boards balked, saying they didn't want to sign a promise to implement reform measures before knowing more details. On the other hand, the districts don't want to take a chance on losing the funding, The Chronicle reported.

Districts now have until Tuesday to submit one of the memos, with either two or three of the required signatures, according to The Chronicle.

The Montague Public Schools board released a statement saying it "reluctantly" agreed to sign.

"The lack of clarity ... is appalling," the statement reads, The Chronicle reported. "The state and federal departments of education would never allow school districts to respond to their inquiries with such scant detail."

SOURCE:
The Muskegon Chronicle, "Muskegon area school officials: 'Race to the Top' going nowhere, and everywhere at once," Jan. 7, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Ideas for Reform," Nov. 23, 2009

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