Race to the Bottom

How Bad Actors Tried to Destroy Public Education

February 2019 marked the 10th anniversary of Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s signature schools initiative. This is the story of what happened in Tennessee, where a bright and shiny education-reform plan got tarnished beyond recognition.



This project began in 2015 as random thoughts scribbled on Post-it Notes. Eventually, it grew into a nearly 16,000-word retrospective, with excerpts published by Chalkbeat and education historian Diane Ravitch. And it earned shout-outs by the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss and POLITICO. The author is grateful to the experts (you know who you are) who helped bring it to fruition.