As part of the Race to the Top fund, President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan have challenged states to turn around struggling schools, become innovative in how their students make gains, reward good teachers and remove poor ones.
The first round of Race to the Top funds will be awarded this spring and the second round in June.
Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, believes that in a special session, Manchin might call for the state to allow charter schools. Duncan has indicated that Race to the Top might favor states that allow charter schools, which often receive public money but operate independently of a local board of education.
However, some state officials have said innovation zones should be a suitable alternative for charter schools. Innovation zones will allow waivers to many state laws and policies -- such as flexibility in the school calendar -- and also allow teachers to try out new, creative strategies to improve student learning. The state doled out its first money for innovation zones on Wednesday.
(...) Manchin also called for the school calendar to be amended to make sure all West Virginia students receive 180 days of instruction each year, a measure that failed to pass the Legislature in 2009.
"And we must pass this, because it is that important," he said. "No excuses, we owe it to our children."
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