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.