New Jersey was not among the winning states announced yesterday in the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" contest for federal education funding. The only reason? A single clerical error on its application. And it'll cost the state $400 million.
New Jersey missed the cut by 3 points, by the Education Department's scoring system. But for one response on page 261 of the lengthy application, the state was awarded 0.2 points out of 5. Why? The question asked for fiscal year 2008 and 2009 figures, and the New Jersey employee filling out the application responded with 2011 figures. Had they filled in the right year, the response would've likely earned 5 points, the application would've passed, and New Jersey would've received $400 million in education funding.
So that sucks.
Christie slapped two thick three-ringed binders on the podium containing more than 1,000 pages of the state's "Race to the Top" application and appendices, noting that just one piece of paper contained the error.
"The first part of it is the mistake of putting the wrong piece of paper in," Christie said. "It drives people crazy and, believe me, I'm not thrilled about it. But the second part is, does anybody in Washington, D.C. have a lick of common sense? Pick up the phone and ask us for the number."
One New Jersey education official's awful reading comprehension skills aside, Christie has a point. The Education Department obviously doesn't want to give states the benefit of limitless corrections after the application deadline. It would waste their time! But maybe, you know, one? Every state gets one opportunity to fix a simple factual fuck-up that's available online? That's $400 million for kids, after all, that's disappeared over a single human error. New Jersey's latest crop of students will now be $400 million dumber. Do the rest of us really want to deal with dumber New Jersey people in the future, shouting even more nonsense in our ears or on MTV all the time? Ugh.
[Image via AP]