Weiss To Lead 'Race to the Top' Initiative at ED


The United States Department of Education this week named Joanne Weiss to head up the "Race to the Top Fund," an ED initiative funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that's aimed at making long-lasting changes at underperforming schools.

Race to the Top, as ED has described it in the past, is designed to "help states with bold plans to improve student achievement." It will provide $4.35 billion to create incentives for states to create "innovative" programs that can be replicated throughout the country. And, in general, it will be aimed at funding programs that satisfy the principles outlined in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which include creating and saving jobs; ensuring transparency, reporting, and accountability; and improving student achievement through school improvement and reform.

Weiss, in her new role, will lead development of the Race to the Top Fund. She's coming to the job following a long career in the private sector. Her resume includes leading Claria Corp. as CEO; serving as vice president of product development at Pensare; and serving as interim CEO and vice president of products and technologies at Academic Systems, which she also co-founded. Most recently she was involved in various investment ventures and was a partner and chief operating officer at New Schools Venture Fund, a national non-profit, according to information released by ED.

"Recruiting successful professionals from the entrepreneurial community is one way we will change the culture and our way of doing business at the Department of Education," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan at an event for the New Schools Venture Fund, held in Pasadena, CA. "We may never have an opportunity like this again to dramatically improve our country's educational system with huge investments in a few strategic areas to make changes that are deep and foundational."

He continued: "Joanne will help us push a strong reform agenda that is entrepreneurial in spirit, providing carrots and sticks, to change the way we do business, and fundamentally turn around underperforming schools in ways that last for decades."

Race to the Top monies are expected to begin rolling out later this year and continue into 2010. Further information about the Race to the Top Fund can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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