I hope we are a Race to the Top finalist today. Georgia needs a push to catch up in education.

Bloggers at Education Week have compiled their list of states likely to be finalists today for Race to the Top grants, which will be announced by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at 1 p.m. (Check back later for the results.)

Georgia is on the the Ed Week list.

With our strong third-place finish last time, I agree that Georgia ought to 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. 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 expect Georgia to be on the list and I still think we could use the money. 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.

38 comments Add your comment

New Blood Needed

July 27th, 2010
11:04 am

You mention Barge’s and Martin’s feelings on RTTT like they are the only candidates on the ballot in November. Please do your homework and you will find that Kira Willis has enough support to be a factor in this race. Her platform should be included every time you do a story like this.

This race is important and we need you to cover it completely Maureen! Don’t disappoint the masses.

http://www.willisforstatesuper.com

New Blood Needed

July 27th, 2010
11:05 am

Sophomoric argument

July 27th, 2010
11:09 am

“If you disagree, tell me where Georgia has led the nation.”

Sophomoric argument, pathetic really the attempt on Maureen’s part to try to argue that if you can’t show where Georgia leads the nation, then your opposition to RTTT is invalid.

The argument is as logically valid as a snake oil salesman saying if you aren’t in perfect health, then you need to buy his Super Health Potion.

Once again Maureen treats her readers as if they are ignorant and uneducated.

d

July 27th, 2010
11:09 am

Maureen, I usually agree with you here, but I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I can’t here. RTTT will do more harm to education for so little money. Think about it, we’re possibly picking up a lot of mandates and putting a lot more emphasis on the standardized testing we all seem to hate. All this pressure for $400 million. This wouldn’t even plug the cuts Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton, and Cobb faced this year and leave nothing nothing for the other 22 systems with MOUs. I’m wondering why Sonny is pursuing this so hard yet going out of the way to sue over healthcare.

Maureen Downey

July 27th, 2010
11:10 am

@nEW BLOOD, You’re right. Because Georgia has been a two-party state for so long, I tend to overlook the other candidates, but Kira Willis deserves mention.
On RTTT, she says;

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) left entirely too many of our students behind. What NCLB created was a system that over tested our students instead of allowing them the opportunity to explore the joy of learning. RT3 is another “reform” that takes away actual learning in our schools. Along with federal money comes federal mandates. We have to say NO to the federal government’s “offer” of educational subsidies. Federal funds account for only 7%-9% of Georgia’s total education budget; however the strings that come with that 7%-9% outweigh the subsidy. None of the money ever actually gets to our students. Instead, it creates positions that are in charge of making sure that money is spent correctly, meaning more forms, more bureaucratic red tape, more bureaucratic jobs, and less money for our kids. Keep the money…and the strings attached to it.

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catlady

July 27th, 2010
11:18 am

Ms.Downey, please tell US how RTTT money will HELP us in “catching up to other states that understood earlier the value of quality education for all citizens” Please be specific as to how this money/participation will do that?

And, as to looking to other states, first find a state with the same demographics as Georgia– poverty levels, adult educational levels, single-parent levels–that is highly successful. Type its name in BOLD capital letters for all of us to see. THEN, we will see what they are doing well. The problem is, states that are successful ARE NOT STARTING FROM THE SAME STARTING LINE WE ARE! But, please, be specific.

Sophomoric argument

July 27th, 2010
11:29 am

“Ms.Downey, please tell US how RTTT money will HELP us in “catching up to other states that understood earlier the value of quality education for all citizens” Please be specific as to how this money/participation will do that?”

She can’t Catlady. That’s why she resorts to the lame pathetic attempt to claim that since you if you can’t name an area where Georgia leads the nation in educational achievement you have to support RTTT.

That she thinks readers would even fall for this weak sophomoric attempt shows the contempt she has for the readers.

[...] more: I hope we are a Race to the Top finalist today. Georgia needs a push to catch … – Atlant… Tags: atlanta-journal, civil-rights, finalist-today-, groups, img-alt, list, president-obama, [...]

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New Blood Needed

July 27th, 2010
11:34 am

Thanks Maureen! We, the people, appreciate it.

http://www.willisforstatesuper.com

Marshall

July 27th, 2010
11:39 am

Ms. Downey,
Thank you for at least mentioning Kira Willis, the Libertarian candidate, in the comments. Now if you can just start mentioning her in your articles from now on, that would be great. As you say, she definitely deserves mention. I have been super impressed by her qualifications, intelligence, and platform. I think she will blow away both of the “major party” candidates in the debates, and I think she’s got a really good shot at making some noise in this election.

fred smith

July 27th, 2010
11:40 am

Perhaps RT3 will do more good than harm, we’ll see. You were touting “standards” again in your Monday piece; I’d hoped you’d understand by now that it doesn’t MATTER what minimum competency bar you put in place (”standard” is just a euphemism for “minimum competency”), the unfortunate kids at the lower end of the capacity scale won’t pass no matter how hard they try, and those at the top will see it a farce. Both are hurt. Motivation, ability, opportunity, and myriad other factors related to learning are all distributed — from hardly any to bunches. Some are more easily changed than others. Some very important ones are beyond the ability of students or teachers to change much, yet “standards” punish them. Some students are shorter than 5′4″. If you want them to all be at least 5′4″, do you suggest the rack? I hope not. A student – much less any human being – is not a car door requiring certain tolerances to fit on the car. Any successful teacher will tell you, and has, in fact, to your and everyone else’s deaf ears, that children are infinitely variable on infinite dimensions, and each and every one of them, in order to become productive, contributing citizens in our democracy, requires a different set of approaches by that expert called skilled teacher. Some of the very brightest students will get free rides to Harvard, others of them may become mechanics (I certainly hope so); those less fortunate or motivated likely will do other things. But none of them are simple cogs on an assembly line, and to think of them so, being measured with endless minimum competency tests, is destroying not only our offspring but, concomitantly, our society. Other means to make sure most can read, add and subtract need be found.

Nikole

July 27th, 2010
11:51 am

Some of the states that are more successful have strong unions. Maybe we should try that.

Hmmm...

July 27th, 2010
12:03 pm

From Kira Willis’ website:

“School Choice: School Choice is something that has been overlooked and under appreciated. Schools choice is a win not only for parents but also for schools. It opens up communication between home and school and allows all stakeholders to be involved in the child’s education. If a school is not meeting the needs of a certain child, then the child should be allowed to go to a different one that does address his or her needs. If we allow the individual allocation per child to follow the child, often called Backpack Funding, schools still get the funding per child, and children can attend the school of their choice. This also saves the districts money as they will no longer have to police their students’ place of residence. Teachers and schools will still be accountable for educating the students, and would become more accountable because there would no longer be a monopoly within the school system.”

Uh..no thanks!

rosie

July 27th, 2010
12:13 pm

The influx of money from RTTT would do nothing to change education. Money is not the problem. Too many parents and children do not value the importance of becoming educated. In our society you don’t have to be educated to survive. Society will take care of you if you will not take care of yourself.

Ann Duffy

July 27th, 2010
12:23 pm

Finalists just announced: AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, HI, IL, KY, LA, MD, MA, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC. Go Georgia!

SSTeacher

July 27th, 2010
12:25 pm

Money, though necessary, is never THE answer to the problems that face education. That is weak thinking. The strings that will come with the money are the concern. Data being used by proponents and opponents are the problem. Education has become a data, testing, and money entity, under the guise that the data, testing, and money are for the children. Policymakers and policymaker-hopefuls conflate the data to support their foregone conclusions. People like Gates, Broad, Walton (and their foundations) have the money to make normally thinking people bow to their billions in admiration rather than honestly question how they know anything about educating kids who are not as privileged as they were growing up. We have made Arne a B-List celebrity rather than an educator (one who has never spent time teaching), and his approach to reforming education shows his practical shortcomings.

RTTT is not about improving education for all students (or else it would not be a competition for funding), it is about the ability to increase power over the current and next generation of voters.

The government is playing the people as suckers, and unfortunately the government is better at selling that the populace is at critical thinking…perhaps that is true indictment against public education.

catlady

July 27th, 2010
12:34 pm

Re Kira Willis’ quote above: Anyone from Clarke County tell us about their experience with school choice? I think it was put in place in 1995, but have never heard anything about the results. It involved some parental choice within the public school system.

Nikole, I was thinking the same thing. That is one thing states that are successful seem to have. They also have parents with much higher education levels.

We have to admit that the single strongest determinant of a student’s educational attainment is the attainment of the student’s parent. The aspirations of the mother for the child are also important, as well as SES, family structure, and, waaayy down the list, the teacher. I would LIKE to think I am important. What I do is important, and I have played an important role in some of my students’ lives, but my efforts have rarely been able to overcome the years of living in the family that these kids have experienced.

catlady

July 27th, 2010
12:43 pm

Hmm. It appears that Clarke County is no longer doing school choice. Wonder why?

Old School

July 27th, 2010
12:43 pm

Off topic and I don’t care!

Someone else thinks like I do. This is from the story in today’s ajc that is worth a read. It’s about the pairing of two high schools in Gwinnett County that seem to be taking a path similar to my oft suggested one. It’s the carpentry quote and the very last sentence that are so telling (and darned important):

“The student’s entire focus is around one or more careers, and they will have several career tech classes every day,” explained James R. Stone, director of the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education. “They serve students of all academic abilities. In some states, some of these schools both outperform other high schools [on] test scores and graduation rates. As you teach carpentry class, you can dramatically improve kids’ math skills.”

More than 18,000 school districts offer some sort of vocational training. “One size doesn’t fit all,” he added.

Attentive Parent

July 27th, 2010
12:47 pm

When you are behind, not all pushes move you ahead. In a misplaced direction, a push can send you right off a cliff.

Many of us have been quite specific in our concerns with respect to RTT.

Can you tell us specifically why you think RTT will help Georgia?

Did you even read those Model Teaching Standards I linked? How will adopting those as a national education model improve educational outcomes except for preferred vendors?

How will requiring participating districts to teach math using the Instructional Frameworks improve math knowledge and skills?

Why is RTT and CCSSI so contemptuous of academic content?

ScienceTeacher671

July 27th, 2010
12:47 pm

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.

Teacher

July 27th, 2010
12:52 pm

More government involvement is not this answer. We have seen how well the government stimulus and bailouts have done for us, so why are we so eager to have more? More money isn’t going to solve the problem. This only puts us further in debt as a nation for no results.

Results will come when we finally wake up and realize that this child-centered, self-esteem approach to parenting isn’t working. Kids come to school with one word in mind: ME. They also lack creative skills because they are scheduled and entertained by mom and dad every minute of their free time. When kids go back to inventing their own games again and finding creative ways to entertain themselves it will spill over into education by creating self-starters who are eager to learn.

teacher&mom

July 27th, 2010
12:53 pm

Here are 10 reasons that I agree with:
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2010/05/just_say_no_to_the_race_to_the.html

And here’s another link that discusses the media’s fascination with RttT
//blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2010/06/the_strange_paradox_of_school.html

I have to say that AJC came to mind when I read the following:

“The Obama administration has benefited mightily by winning the approval of the national media. But the media have failed to ask what the race is about, what the “top” is, who will lose the race, and what will be accomplished by the government’s expenditure of nearly $5 billion for these purposes.”

Could you please tell us what YOU think the race is about? What is the “top” in your opinion, and what do you think will be accomplished with the money? How do you see RttT funds, along with all the regulations and red tape, changing the school where your twins attend. Do you really think it will make it a better school?

teacher&mom

July 27th, 2010
12:55 pm

chefdavid

July 27th, 2010
12:59 pm

We are all on top of the race to the top up here in Dade.That is why we did so good on AYP
” Priest has approached administrators involved with the Race to the Top program about Dade County’s being a pilot school since work with the program so closely resembles many things Dade County is already doing or working on.”
http://www.dadesentinel.com/content.aspx?Module=ContentItem&ID=173214&MemberID=1338

B. Killebrew

July 27th, 2010
1:03 pm

Right on, catlady, teacher&mom, Teacher, SSTeacher, and Sophomoric.

Attentive Parent

July 27th, 2010
1:06 pm

Caught in the filter again although it appears most of my points are being ably asserted anyway.

Help!

ScienceTeacher671

July 27th, 2010
1:11 pm

Attentive Parent, I’m in the filter with you. Want a cup of coffee?

Attentive Parent

July 27th, 2010
3:11 pm

It’s afternoon and I’m at the beach.

Almost time for something a bit stronger. At least we are making headway against the “free funds,where do I sign up?” group of Georgia voters.

Read those CCSSO Model Teaching Standards and the State Policy Implications that I linked last week and tell us how you think that would make any classroom function better or result in greater academic learning for anyone.

Another way these federal ideas will decrease teacher autonomy.

Race to the NHL

July 27th, 2010
7:24 pm

I think Georgia is lagging behind in the number of professional hockey players we are producing. The NHL is willing to grant $400 million dollars to the Georgia High School Association. However, the GHSA must show their commitment to the program as well as 21st century standards by abandoning their high school football programs for hockey programs. Everyone knows that football was developed at the end of the 19th century and fully developed in the later decades of the 20th century. Thus despite its proven record of success in leadership development, contributions to student achievement, and community pride it is time for this arcane hold over from the last century to be shuttered.

Hockey, a sport very popular in more progressive northern states such as Illinois and Michigan, with its emphasis on team work, speed, grace, and balance fully exemplifies standards that are value added in the 21st century.

Sophomoric argument

July 27th, 2010
7:43 pm

Notice Maureen had absolutely no rebuttal to her ridiculously weak argument.

Public school mom

July 27th, 2010
9:50 pm

Maureen wrote “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.”

And a perfect example of Georgia going it alone is the integrated high school math curriculum. That isn’t going so well is it? Unfortunately just drafting “standards” is only a tiny part of the process. The big, expensive parts are an effective pilot program, great teachers, excellent training, a meaningful implementation, appropriate textbooks and teaching supplements, etc.

Sophomoric argument

July 27th, 2010
10:20 pm

“We have nothing in our education history that entitles us to stand up and announce that we can do it better.”

And what exactly does the federal government have in its education history that provides any faith that adding billions more to a 14 trillion dollar federal deficit will dramatically improve things?

teacher

July 28th, 2010
12:33 am

I contribute almost daily to a teacher forum loaded with professionals from all over the country. Teachers ask questions and talk about lessons and share what new innovation is being shoved down their throats in their area of the country. They also share their successes and failures with testing. I find that Georgia teachers are doing as well as any other state. Kids pass and fail all over the country. Some state tests are so incredibly different from ours in that the kids have all day to take the test. Some states don’t require testing monitors in the classroom. A teacher from New Jersey posted the state standard in Social Studies for her grade and it was a mess. Administrators equally good and bad in every state. Parents support or don’t support in every state. Teachers in all states are asking each other advice about how to get kids to turn in their homework. California and Florida teachers have incredibly low morale. Some teachers who teach in inner city schools feel abandoned. I don’t think you can make the assumption that most other states are doing better than Georgia. I don’t see it, and I’m communicating with the troops on the front line almost everyday. And don’t tell me to compare SAT scores. You would have to make sure that the same type of population is taking the test. Who takes the tests in each state? Look at this table. Iowa has great results. But who takes the test in Iowa. The top 4% who are planning on going to a university. Who takes it in Georgia? 70% of high school students who may or may not be planning on attending a university.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d06/tables/dt06_134.asp

And, yes, the national tests are biased against our rural kids. I once gave the ITBS to a 3rd grader who was gifted but so ADHD and disruptive he had to be given the test separately from his classmates. He kept complaining about the questions. He showed me a picture of a subway station and wanted to know what it was. (Of course, I couldn’t say a word.) He complained about a question that asked which type of housing is typically found now-a-days. One of the pictures was a log cabin and another was a regular suburban ranch house. Please. This kids was so smart (and so contrary) that he refused to answer the question, telling me that there are plenty of log cabins around.

I guess I get very aggravated when people think things are better in other states. They are just different.

teacher

July 28th, 2010
12:35 am

Excuse the typos on the post above. I’m tired.

Mary Doe

July 29th, 2010
11:34 pm

Throwing money at the problem is not the answer. It just means more hoops for teachers and students to have to jump through. Fred Smith and Rose hit the nail on the head.