Georgia is in the race again. We are one of 19 finalists for Race to the Top. Good news or not?

We’re in the running again as expected.

The finalists for Race to the Top grants are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington DC, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

With our strong third-place finish last time, I figured that that Georgia would be a finalist again. However, I still wonder about whether the anti-RTTT feelings in the state will hurt us when the winners are announced in September.

John Barge, the Republican nominee for state school superintendent, is opposed to the federal $4 billion competitive grant program, raising the question of whether the feds will award Georgia the money with the possibility of a critic at the helm of  the state DOE come November. Libertarian  candidate Kira Willis also opposes RTTT. Democratic nominee Joe Martin supports the program overall.

There is a lot of discussion about whether Race to the Top is losing its appeal. Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming are not competing for the grants; nine of them had submitted applications  in round one.

Many states were disappointed that there only two winners in round one, including Delaware, a state about the size of DeKalb County.

I  am thrilled that we are a finalist. The notion that Georgia can go it alone in education reform is based on wishful thinking. First of all, we are still catching up to other states that understood earlier the value of quality education for all citizens. We have farther to go than many states and we need all the help we can get to get there, even if that help comes wrapped in federal red tape and federal accountability.

As a parent, I want Georgia to be looking to other more successful states and to the feds for guidance. We have nothing in our education history that entitles us to stand up and announce that we can do it better.

If you disagree, tell me where Georgia has led the nation. When you are behind, you ought to welcome a push. I realize that many of you feel that push is going to take us over a cliff. I don’t.

62 comments Add your comment

ScienceTeacher671

July 27th, 2010
1:01 pm

Maybe you ought to just bring all the comments answering those same questions over from the anticipation thread started an hour or two ago? Mine still stand, but they are caught in the filter.

EnoughAlready

July 27th, 2010
1:07 pm

This is excellent news. I don’t see how anyone could support two candidates, who are oppose to money coming into our state for education. I don’t think they realalize just how much the state of Georgia lacks in education. It shows when we have a large percentage of registered voters supporting a governor without a college education.

The people who don’t understand what is lacking in our education system are those that have not experienced or been outside the state of Georgia to see the world view. They don’t value foreign languages, music programs or science. They don’t usually like change. It’s been our downfall for the last fifty years.

Ros Dalton

July 27th, 2010
1:08 pm

The question isn’t whether we’re going over a cliff on federal dollars, it’s whether the federal rope is long enough to pull us back up the cliff(s) we’ve already gone over. I think this program will lead to very good jobs for a very few people who oversee the project, manage the databases, and pick the tests. I think it will lead to a slight increase in teacher paperwork, and a more modest increase in student testing… and nothing else.

Change doesn’t come from hundreds of miles away. It comes from the ground up or it doesn’t come at all.

schlmarm

July 27th, 2010
1:09 pm

The problem is that there will be too many strings attached to that money. That’s why people are opposed to RT3. The money would be a mere pittance and would probably be spent on more consultants who have no clue what goes on in a classroom. That money does not guarantee that Georgia will be able to lead the nation. That sounds like Kathy Cox wishful thinking.

David S

July 27th, 2010
1:12 pm

As the statistics show time and time again, money is not the problem. There is no correlation between dollars spent and outcomes achieved. The government at all levels is bankrupt. Going further into debt as a nation just to throw more money at a failed education model is certainly not the right approach.

The greatest “push” everyone could use would be to have the current system collapse under its own bureaucratic weight and for parents to finally take personal responsibility for their children’s education. Add to that allowing the free market to rise up and address the eductation needs of children in a competitive manner, delivering products and services that actually meet consumer demand and expectations, and this country would be well on the way to finally delivering a quality education to all.

The fiscal end may be just around the corner. What our governments are doing is certainly unsustainable.

Attentive Parent

July 27th, 2010
1:13 pm

Why didn’t you combine the 2, largely equivalent posts and just do an update?

It appears that the AJC is setting up Barge as the fall guy if Georgia fails to win- “none of these cuts might have been necessary but for . . .”.

If Georgia wins “Barge didn’t want you to have this money . . .”

His point that implementation will be more costly than the amounts received will be lost.

This is about federal control of education with largely local funding-the worst of all possible worlds when it comes to unwieldiness.

catlady

July 27th, 2010
1:15 pm

Is there any state that DIDN”T get into this round?

Attentive Parent

July 27th, 2010
1:15 pm

Also I am stuck in the filter on the other RTT thread.

Fericita

July 27th, 2010
1:15 pm

We definitely need educational reform in Georgia. I’ll offer an example in the field I know well – teaching English to speakers of other languages. With our influx of ESOL students in the past few years, I think our state should look at how other states with a longer history of of teaching immigrants have been doing so successfully. New York, for example, has excellent bilingual programs that teach English and Spanish from Kindergarten on. This helps native Spanish speakers, who learn English better after they know how to read in their native language. It also helps native English speakers, by teaching a foreign language before the “critical period” when language learning becomes harder (which ironically, is right around middle/high school, when we begin offering foreign languages in our school).

However, what I see in Race to the Top is a way for the state government to get out of paying my salary based on my level of educational attainment, and instead of how my students learn. Which, depending on how they do it, could be fair or not. I don’t have much reason to trust that they’ll be fair, however.

catlady

July 27th, 2010
1:16 pm

I mean, any state that WANTED to?

Maureen Downey

July 27th, 2010
1:17 pm

@Attentive Parent, Because I can’t update Twitter and Facebook doing what you suggested. (Or I can’t do them remotely as I am on vacation this week.)
As to John Barge, I do think his opposition will have to be considered when the feds decide. I think that is why Gov. Perdue tried so hard to get another Republican, a pro-RTTT candidate, on the ballot in Brad Bryant.
Maureen

Red

July 27th, 2010
1:17 pm

So we get the money and schools shuffle money around to pay for more union member teachers. And our state still falls well below the national average with teachers cheating for children on tests.Tell me why again we are signing away more authority to DC for some money that goes into bureaucracy? The same people who claim to be about local control of schools are the same ones pimping out their students to federal social engineering programs.

Maureen Downey

July 27th, 2010
1:19 pm

To all, Sorry that so many of you just ended up in the filter on Race to the Top. I am not sure what the filter doesn’t like about RTTT.
Could be a sign.
Maureen

ScienceTeacher671

July 27th, 2010
1:19 pm

I’m in the filter on both threads.

Maureen, you’re vacationing like the Obamas!

ScienceTeacher671

July 27th, 2010
1:21 pm

Ok, out of the filters. Here’s what I said on the previous thread:

As has been stated already, RTTT money will go for more bureaucracy & testing, and will probably end up costing the state (or at least individual districts) more in the long run.

Students, schools & districts which value education do well already. Those that do not, do not.

To improve education, the first thing we ought to do, in my opinion, is start with an honest assessment of where we are – but that would require honest assessments, and the Georgia tests such as CRCT, EOCT, and GHSGT, are anything but.

Maureen Downey

July 27th, 2010
1:21 pm

@Catlady, I had the same thought, but there were 36 applicants and 19 winners.

ScienceTeacher671

July 27th, 2010
1:22 pm

David S., if there’s no correlation between outcomes achieved and dollars spent, why do schools such as Sidwell Friends charge 20-30K per year, and why do people pay that money?

Maureen Downey

July 27th, 2010
1:22 pm

ScienceTeacher, I broke up my two weeks this summer because I wanted to be back in the office for the July 20th election results. I am out this week and then back until the fall when I have two more weeks to use.
I get a month now after 20 years with the paper.
But I could not sit out today’s announcement.
Maureen
(And unlike Michelle Obama, I am not going to Spain with the kids to meet the queen, although I plan a trip to the outlets in Dawsonville and to Dairy Queen.)

Waffle House Fight Club

July 27th, 2010
1:22 pm

This what I find wrong in public education. Money.

The constant “we need/don’t have enough money” cry does not solve any problems. It’s the wasy way of not having to do a job. Low test scores? Blame the lack of funds. Poor teacher performance? Blame the lack of funds. What will anyone do with more money?

The most important aspect of education that never receives enough attention is parental involvement. So few programs make attempts to involve the parents in the education process. The parents, too busy playing with their latest i Phone don’t have time for their children. They now expect the school system to do it all. If you have children in school, you better know all the names of your children’s teachers, the principals, the classes they take and you should have dropped in your children’s school at least twice in a school year just to keep everyone honest.

Stop blaming poor funding and start taking responsibility.

Maureen Downey

July 27th, 2010
1:25 pm

@Waffle, I do think that money alone can’t solve all education problems, but I have to point out that the top private schools charge about $18,000 tuition, and still fundraise among their alums for special causes. And as I often note, the per pupil spending for the average public school student – one not receiving any special services of any kind — has not risen in decades.
So could more money help a bit?
Without a doubt.
Maureen

EnoughAlready

July 27th, 2010
1:28 pm

The federal government isn’t the reason that Georgia is at the bottom when it comes to education. The argument for more local control is a bogus argument, because most of the decisions regarding education is made at the local level. The only thing that the federal government proposes to state run systems are standards that should be met and/or Exceeded. The local systems have the freedom to Exceed and push standards that far outway what is required by the federal government.

The people running our State and Local school systems are the ones holding back our students, not the government. There isn’t anything in the federal standards that say you can’t push for higher standards or obligate ourselves to do more than what is desired or requested.

ScienceTeacher671

July 27th, 2010
1:29 pm

It’s okay, Maureen, I’ve been “on vacation” for the past 2 months. Just can’t afford to go anywhere with all these furlough days, etc. :-)

What do YOU think that RT3 will do for us?

john konop

July 27th, 2010
1:30 pm

Maureen Downey,

In all due respect ScienceTeacher671 is right we must understand the problem and indentify the solutions first, I am not sold this money will do anything to help with solutions.

Maureen Downey

July 27th, 2010
1:33 pm

ScienceTeacher. Put some more money in poor schools. Help us finally get our student data system – the one begun under Linda Schrenko — up and running. Develop more effective teacher recruitment and training programs.
Maureen
If you look over our application, it has good detail on some of this. (It is vague on the teacher performance pay stuff, I admit that.)

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/georgia.pdf

Waffle House Fight Club

July 27th, 2010
1:34 pm

I agree, money can help. What helps even more, with or without increased funding is the parents. We know funding is never a constant. Because of that, we must put more effort in a constant. The parents.

Alison

July 27th, 2010
1:40 pm

Why are we “racing” to the top to begin with? All children deserve a reasonable amount of funds toward their education, not just those who live in states willing to bend over backwards to get those funds.

Real change in education will only happen when there is a shift in thinking that places less emphasis on standardized tests, and more trust in teachers (who should receive more training). It seems that as a nation, we’re focusing our attention and money on the wrong things.

justbrowsing

July 27th, 2010
1:42 pm

This is about changing the dynamics of how teachers are compensated. It lacks protective provisions for teachers, and fails to consider the impact of parental involvement which naturally comes at private schools where you are paying top dollars for education, or even charter schools with comitted parents. It all boils down to parental comittment- period. That is what either raises or lowers test scores- rarely is the teacher in the class. That is political propaganda that they use to make parents think it is really not their fault- but someone else’s. I have had some bad teachers in my own day- but I still learned something. The onus was on me to do the learning.

Nothing We Can Do

July 27th, 2010
1:44 pm

Red: For the last time, we do not have teacher unions in Georgia.

justbrowsing

July 27th, 2010
1:44 pm

Parents are busy working these rediculous hours and many do not have time to fully engage their children. Times have changed and we just are not going to be able to continue at this pace. Duncan has no clue what he is doing. Education will be in a shambles before 2012.

Nothing We Can Do

July 27th, 2010
1:45 pm

What does this really mean for Georgia? Only 23 systems signed up for the program, how does this effect the others?

Dave

July 27th, 2010
1:48 pm

Great, now DeKalb can buy more of Simpson’s books.

justbrowsing

July 27th, 2010
1:49 pm

The private school curriculum is a lot more robust and provides many uniqe experiences that help students to view the world globally. Public school stymied in bureaucracy can never compete. Parents pay for the exclusivity of these schools, and like neighborhoods, know that only a certain caliber of students and parents are likely to attend, or be able to remain.

justbrowsing

July 27th, 2010
1:52 pm

CORRECTED

The private school curriculum is a lot more robust and provides many uniqe experiences that help students to view the world globally. Public schools stymied in bureaucracy can never compete. Parents pay for the exclusivity of these schools, and like neighborhoods, know that only a certain caliber of students and parents are likely to attend, or be able to remain.

Teacher #3

July 27th, 2010
1:57 pm

Although I understand my colleagues’ frustration with *some* parents, I am also sick and tired of teachers constantly blaming parents for their (or other teachers’) students’ performances. Our students don’t have a choice of schools or teachers, and we don’t have a choice students. Our job is to educate the students we have in front of us, and what makes us different from private schools or after school tutoring program is that we are supposed to be professionals who can handle a variety of students from a variety of contexts.

Although money may not be THE solution, money well spent must be a part of the solution.

The biggest dilemma/paradox is that those who must be cut/reduced, i.e., the central office administrators, are the ones who are making decisions about how the money is to be spent.

ScienceTeacher671

July 27th, 2010
1:59 pm

justbrowsing

July 27th, 2010
2:06 pm

@Teacher 3: I stand corrected. There are *some* parents who are uninvolved in their student’s educational experieces. The parent is the most critical component in the educative process. While we can workn with a variety of students, they still must bring something to the process. The current presentation is one of teacher apathy and neglect- which is just not the case. That is the biggest lie that RTTT proponents have hung their initiatives on. I have seen students flat out refuse- classrooms full of students absolutely apathetic about their learning, there must come a time where students begin to shoulder their load, not create policies which propose offloading the teacher because students choose not to.

carter is a fool

July 27th, 2010
2:09 pm

Georgia is one of the leaders in the nations for low taxes. There IS a DIRECT CORRELATION between this and our stellar ranking in education. We have misers in the state legislature who are determined to destroy education by cutting funding at every turn. This began before the current recession. This coupled with their disgraceful dishonesty in breaking contracts with the National Board Certified Teachers is why it it truly shameful the state of public education in GA.

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justbrowsing

July 27th, 2010
2:14 pm

Every academically progressed nation places the onus of educational opportunity on the students. Perhaps this is where RTTT should place its focus. We would be amazed at the strides we would make if we did. This is not about teacher quality- it is about economics- period.

justbrowsing

July 27th, 2010
2:19 pm

Every willing student that I have known has been educated with few exceptions, and those were addressed. What is shameful is the fact that Arne Duncan sits on this RTTT money and uses it to entice cash stricken districts to dance to his tune, and he cannot even provide evidence that it has ever worked under his leadership. I am embarrassed for Obama who views this as his signature plan, and it will haunt him years down the line once he is out of office.

Irony

July 27th, 2010
2:26 pm

Anyone find it ironic that 5 are Red States and 14 are blue states? To the victor goes the highest probability of those who vote for you getting the spoils. Georgia doesnt stand a chance, and frankly I am fine with that. Most of this money kids will never see. I dont care about what I get, but what my kids get. The biggest disease in education is not only the politicians running education instead of those who have actually been in education, but those money grubbing teachers who want their “cut” I am not going to do this because I want my money. I know you work hard for your money, but this RT3 money will never go to you or your kids. How can anyone support this ridiculous program. Its bad when the NEA (who sucked up to Obama) before the election are against this.

Purdue will gladly take Obama’s blood money, but sue his butt in court over health care legislation. Mess with the next generation, but not my healthcare. Hypocrisy at its best.

Tony

July 27th, 2010
2:26 pm

One of the biggest issues for Georgia to solve with regard to education is rooted in the LOW VALUE placed upon learning by many of the citizens of the state. Combine that with an increasingly poor work ethic and disaster is just around the corner. The best schools in the country can not solve these two dilemmas.

Firing teachers, having tougher evaluation standards, and merit pay are not going to fix these problems. With all the broken promises to teachers from politicians in the past, how in the world are we as educators supposed to believe that any future promises will be kept? Our students have been sold out to the big corporations through this year’s state budget and now we are looking for the feds to bail us out. That is not the answer for what Georgia’s schools need.

We need leaders who will stand with teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards to address the community issues that cause students to drop out. We need to address the discipline concerns in schools without trying to hide behind a veil of secrecy. We need to support our teachers when they enact higher standards in their classrooms by expecting our kids to rise to the challenge instead of complaining that “the math is too hard.”

Hopefully someone will bring some sanity to the political forces that are ruining our kids’ futures.

irisheyes

July 27th, 2010
2:29 pm

@Red, please do not continue to get all of your information just from Fox News. First of all, GA doesn’t have any teacher’s unions. We have PAGE and GAE which are simply professional organizations. It’s like saying that doctors that belong to the AMA are unionized. There’s no collective bargaining here in Georgia. In addition, currently the only people who have been named in the CRCT cheating scandal are administrators, not classroom teachers. While I do not doubt that there will be teachers named when the smoke clears, I think you will find that the percentage of administrators compared to teachers will be significent.

FYI, the President will be on the View on Friday, but they are taping tomorrow, and you can go to the ABC site and e-mail questions or topics you would like them to talk about. I definitely think that asking how the President could state during his campaign that NCLB needed to be reformed compares to the obvious emphasis on testing that seems to be apparent in RTTT.

Blood Money

July 27th, 2010
2:30 pm

Purdue will take Obama’s RT3 blood money, but sue him on Health Care Legislation. Sell our kids down the Potomac River, but dont mess with my healthcare. Hypocrisy at its finest.

David S

July 27th, 2010
2:37 pm

ScienceTeacher671 – Specificall I was referring to statistics of government run schools. Currently Washinton DC spends more money that any school district in the nation (over $15,000 per pupil) and has some of the worst performance. Private schools charge what they charge for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is BECAUSE THEY CAN.

I don’t mean to be glib, but the reality is that so many parents are willing to just put their kids in the local government school and not ever consider any alternative that there is a very small consumer market for private education alternatives. Combine that with the fact that sometimes several thousands of dollars are taken from each household to support the government schools, regardless of whether or not a child from that household attends them, and you have a situation in which only the wealthier and committed parents are interested or able to finance a private school education. As a result, private schools know they can charge more and that further benefits them by creating a “exclusive” nature for the service.

The fact that they also perform better is the result of their having to deliver a quality service in a competitive (yes, still competitive at the high end of price) market in which others are ready and willing to step up and provide a quality service to dissatisfied customers.

That is how the free market works and why these schools are superior.

Should 50% of the parents decide they have had enough and start searching for private alternatives, no doubt the market would deliver hundreds if not thousands of alternatives at a variety of price points to meet both the quality and financial needs of the new consumer base.

Remember, amount spent per pupil in government schools is political, not based on anything else.

Lynn

July 27th, 2010
2:44 pm

Help us finally get our student data system – the one begun under Linda Schrenko — up and running.

I have a friend who strongly believed that the failure to institute this system was intentional once state bureaucrat and elected officials realized that there is an inverse relationship to how student does in math as related to how long they are in a GA public school. (The longer they are in a public school, the lower their math scores are.) He also believed that the elimination of the ITBS or other nationally normed test as a state requirement was another strategy to hide how bad things are. Then he moved his family out of GA.

I don’t think the powers that be really want to know how students and schools are performing here.

I support a national curriculum because I support a national test. But I still believe if mom and/or dad or another adult isn’t supporting the concept that education is a good thing at home, then it doesn’t matter what the schools do.

If we want the schools to replace parents, then make every school a KIPP type school and raise the taxes to pay for it.

justbrowsing

July 27th, 2010
3:13 pm

also- they will not tell parents that once all schools are voucher based- private schools will up their tuitions to keep them out, but more importantly it may lower the costs for those who can actually pay for it anyway. Meaning that ultimately benefits those with money. Voucher based schools will closely resemble the schools right down the street from one’s house. They will still be stymied by bureaucracy, and pandling for parental approvaln in spite of the fact that the studentn refuses to even lift a pencil to even make a bubble on a test. Unions will of course be destroyed which is a great deal of what this is about. I thing Duncan has PTSD from fighting with the unions in Chicago

Larry Major

July 27th, 2010
4:18 pm

Since even Perdue mentioned it, I’ll have to ask why RTTT is viewed as interference. This is the same charge leveled at the Gates Foundation, but when I check into the specifics of what Gates has done, that’s not what I find.

According to the reports I’ve read, including one in the AJC, it was Hall’s idea to reduce the size of high schools. It was Hall who contacted the Gates Foundation with her idea in 1999 and was turned down. The Gates Foundation got involved, but it was five years later when the project was already underway.

Now, I see the RTTT app includes the data system improvements that were already underway and it looks like the same situation; states are competing to fund what they were going to do on their own.

Board members at GCPS, one of the participating school systems, can quote exact numbers on underfunded fed mandates. Alvin isn’t exactly a pushover and clearly doesn’t see this as federal intervention.

Why do others see it this way?

Nothing We Can Do

July 27th, 2010
4:25 pm

David S.: Once again you want to push the “free market” solves all problems, the truth is that it does not. Getting a good education is not as simple as build more private schools and they will come. Private schools (the more exclusive ones) don’t want or probably won’t take vouchers. They have very stringent rules on behavior and attendance which they can enforce, while public schools do not. Secondly in many rural locations (much of Georgia) you will be left with very small schools that will not be able to offer the resources of public schools. Your argument is based on suppositions that are just not true (much like trickle down economics) The answer is allowing public schools to enforce attendance and discipline without worrying about AYP.

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