As Effrem explains, Race To The Top (RTTP) is pretty much an encore of No Child Left Behind, with a quieter, more pleasing melody:
With the nearly one trillion dollars spent for the stimulus as well as the trillions spent or proposed for the federal budget, health care, and cap and trade legislation one might reasonably wonder why a few billion dollars for more federal education spending is any big deal. The answer is that federal government is using this program to bribe states to accept even more federal control of education, a constitutionally and traditionally state function.
This dangerous trend of more federal control of education was greatly accelerated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. However because of the intense opposition engendered by NCLB from all points on the political spectrum and the difficulty that the Obama administration has run into trying to implement its expansive and statist domestic agenda, RTTT is accomplishing more of that same federal control without having to go through the messy process of reauthorizing the controversial NCLB.
This most recent education bill follows the same big-government statist tune that has been sung by Democrats and Republicans for decades. The parties may change, but the song remains the same: as government expands, liberty contracts.