Daily Video

December 4, 2009

States Vie For School Stimulus Funds

The president’s federal stimulus package included $4.3 billion in funding for America’s public schools and according to a new report, most states plan to apply for their share of federal stimulus money for education.

Led by Secretary Arne Duncan, the U.S. Department of Education is laying out the rules for a program it calls Race to the Top, where states must promise to raise educational standards and institute certain programs in order to qualify for the money.

The Race to the Top program has already led 10 states to revise their education laws.

In this video, NewsHour education correspondent John Merrow reports on the federal governments efforts to raise standards with federal funds as an incentive. He also looks at previous federal efforts to improve American education from the Space Race science programs to No Child Left Behind.


“This is one of the largest investments in education reform in American history. And rather than divvying it up and handing it out, we are letting states and school districts compete for it.” – President Barack Obama

“Can we make the Department of Education not the driver of compliance, not the driver of bureaucracy, but the engine of innovation?” Education Secretary Arne Duncan

“We found that our educational system is in the grip of a crisis caused by low standards, lack of purpose, ineffective use of resources, and a failure to challenge students to push performance to the boundaries of individual ability, and that is, to strive for excellence.” – Ronald Reagan, former U.S. president

Warm Up Questions

1. What does the U.S. Department of Education do? What is its role?

2. How can schools tell if students are learning?

3. Who holds a school responsible for doing a good job?

Discussion Questions

1. What did you learn from this video? Did you know that there was so much money for education in the federal stimulus package?

2. Why do different states have different standards?

3. Why would the U.S. government be so interested in making sure that its citizens are well educated? What is the purpose?

4. Pick one of the previous federal programs discussed in this report. How did those programs coincide with the political interests of the person who was president at that time?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript of this report

Download this Video

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