With the Obama administration’s presentation of $325 million to the District of Columbia and Maryland last Tuesday, public schools in the area received a needed boost toward improvement that could set the tone of the upcoming D.C. mayoral and Virginia gubernatorial elections.

Ten states won more than $3.3 billion combined in Obama’s Race to the Top grant competition, which challenges states to improve their public education systems. Obama’s plan aims to improve America’s ailing public schools by rewarding states that demonstrate promising educational practices.

The grants awarded to Maryland and the District, $250 million and $75 million respectively, are a double bonus for the D.C. area. The money will be used to inject resources into struggling schools and will also gauge teacher effectiveness, largely by assessing student achievement.

The money was also welcome news for D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), both of whom are up for re-election this November. Each has placed a heavy emphasis on the Race to the Top competition.

Embattled D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s policies on teacher evaluations help lift the District through the ranks of competitors.

For its part, Maryland’s General Assembly passed legislation this year that made growth in student achievement account for 50 percent of teacher assessments.

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