How Delaware is spending Race to the Top money

We’re starting to see some of the state’s Race to Top dollars at work. A little more than a year ago, Delaware was awarded $119 million dollars from the government through its $4.35 billion dollar education grant program.

Fifty percent of the money is required to go directly to the schools and the state is free to spend the other half.

State education officials say the $119 million is spread out over four years, and so far, Delaware has spent about $58 million for dozens of projects, including the brand new STEM Residency Program.

STEM is short for Science, Technology, Engineeering and Mathematics.

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Race to the Top bankrolls the program, which is run through the University of Delaware. UD recruits individuals with STEM expertise, who then enroll in graduate education courses while grabbing hands-on experience as well.

“Not only do they earn a full Masters Degree, they earn their initial certification. They also spend a year in a public classroom working with a mentor teacher,” said Brad Glass, the university’s STEM Coordinator.

Partnering with the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District, the residents teach at either Delcastle Technical High School or Howard High School of Technology.”Math and science are areas of shortage for highly qualified teachers in the state, but also nationally. So we’re always looking to bring those high quality people into the schools here in Delaware,” said Glass.

The state allocated $1.65 million for STEM. In addition to that, the state is spending about $2.6 million Race to the Top dollars for a college readiness project so the state can pay for every junior in Delaware’s public schools to take the SAT’s.

Delaware Education Secretary Dr. Lillian Lowery says Race to the Top money was divvied up this first year based on research done over years, adding this is just the beginning.

“If this works the way it’s supposed to work, people are going to hear about it, they’re going to know about, not only what’s happening in our K-12 educational programs, but what’s happening at the university level and then what jobs are in Delaware that would incite those people to want to come here, and stay here and raise their families here. So it really is a very integrated approach to economic development with education being at the base.”

For more coverage of Delaware’s STEM Residency Program and Race to the Top, tune in to First, Delaware’s weekly news magazine tonight at 5:30 and again at 10. We’ll show you what other programs are receiving federal funding this first year and explain how the state plans to keep these projects going long after Race to the Top funds dry up.

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