681 Hours and The Clock's Ticking
If state education departments procrastinated like my students often do, then they certainly will be out of luck in nabbing some of that $4.3 billion sitting in the Race to the Top Fund — a federal competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states for innovation, reform and improved student achievement.
The grant application due date is Jan. 19. It will be interesting to see how many states make the deadline since it takes 681 hours according to the U.S. Education Department to complete the application form. In regular bean counter terms, that means some lucky state bureaucrat had to spend a little over four months filling out the forms without breaking for a leisurely lunch or popping down to the corner Starbucks for an afternoon caffeinated pick me up. This, of course, probably borders on some sort of cruel and unusual punishment for state workers — something unfamiliar to me since I’m relegated to a windowless classroom with only a 20-minute “duty free” lunch.
I guess the competitiveness of the Race to the Top fund stems from who can actually wade through and fill out the form by the deadline. One Florida education official called the entire process “immense” and “time consuming.” At 681 hours, I think that qualifies as bit of an understatement.
With the deadline looming, state education officials who have been dragging their feet are pretty much out of luck unless they assign someone 24/7, pay them overtime and hook up an intravenous supply of java in order to get the job done.
And if that 681 hours doesn’t make you pause to ponder the insanity of it all, the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates the cost for all states to fill out those forms tops the $1 million mark. That figure, of course, doesn’t include overtime or the extra coffee consumption .
Call me crazy, but all that money and the 681 hours seem like it could be better spent in the classroom instead of filling out bureaucratic forms. But I guess that’s why I’m still in the classroom eating my brown bag lunch during my duty free 20-minutes pondering whatever happened to all that paperwork reduction hoopla bandied about years ago.