Arne Duncan: Will follow Race to the Top progress in Georgia. “If any state does not implement well, we will simply stop funding them.”

 U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited an Atlanta classroom earlier this year. We may be seeing more of him that he is giving Georgia $400 million.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited an Atlanta classroom earlier this year. We may be seeing more of him now that he is giving Georgia $400 million.

In discussing Race to the Top with reporters via conference call today, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave the standard “everyone was a winner” speech.

But not everyone was a winner.

In this second round, 35 states and Washington, D.C., applied for the $3.4 billion in grants and 10 won, based on points assigned by a panel of experts.

Georgia ranked 8th in points, a big drop from Round 1 where the state ranked third, but still high enough to win $400 million.

This is where Race to the Top gets interesting. Georgia is about to elect a new governor and a new school chief. GOP school chief candidate John Barge is not a fan of Race to the Top or of federal involvement in education.

On this blog, he said, “I believe that, constitutionally, the federal government has no role in education. It is best administered by state and local elected officials and by education professionals closest to our schools and our classrooms. In my view, the amount of money we could receive from Race to the Top does not justify yet more federal government intrusion and bureaucratic micromanagement of our local schools. However, other policy leaders believe differently.”

One policy maker who didn’t feel differently — at least for 15 minutes — was GOP gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal. At a public event earlier this month, Deal came out against Race to the Top, and then did an almost immediate reversal.

“Race to the Top has standardized curriculum,” said Deal. “I do not agree with anything that has strings attached. I would say it’s probably not worth the money we’re going to receive. In the overall scheme of things it’s not that much money. It sounds big but when you distribute it across every level of the education system, it’s not that big.”

Then, a few hours later, Deal’s office issued a statement: “He is not going to return the money. That program will already be in place when he takes office.”

And Georgia’s Race to the Top grant will be in place. But will it stay in place?

I asked Duncan how he felt about giving a $400 million federal grant to a state that could possibly have a school chief and governor who don’t believe feds should play a role in schools.

“This was Georgia’s plan,” said Duncan. “This is bigger than any governor or any school chief. Hundreds and hundreds of individuals put in a huge amount of hours and came up with great plan. This wasn’t about any one person. And we are holding every state accountable and will follow their progress. If any state does not implement well, we will simply stop funding them. If a state decides this not what they want to do, we will challenge it. But I have every confidence that Georgia will do a great job and take student achievement to another level.”

I asked the three candidates for school chief for statements on Georgia’s victory in Race to the Top.

Here is what Libertarian Kira Willis, who opposed RTTT, said:

Although I have been against receiving RT3 funds, we now must face the fact that they are here for four years. It is not a lot of money (one percent of our budget), but here’s what we can do with it:  we can use it to fund innovation in education. I will vehemently and actively oppose any “created positions” that take more funds from our schools and from our kids.  The last thing we need is to put another tier into the GADOE or into the local counties of Georgia.

Most of us who have been in education know that alternative tracks toward graduation is not a new concept, but it is a concept that we can sink our teeth into and give more students more opportunities for success.  As State School Superintendent, my plan will be to afford local counties the freedom to give their students more avenues toward graduation.  I will encourage them to find ways to ensure academic success for all of their students, not just the ones who plan on attending university.  This could include an agricultural school, a computer technical track, a culinary arts track, or an arts diploma.  True innovation in education means meeting the needs of each individual student. Innovation also means implementing real school choice for our children by opening more charter schools or simply allowing students to attend any school that they wish to attend.

As our RT3 application states, we will promote innovation.  Local counties will have the ability to take the invitation to be creative and run with it.  I will not create more administrative positions at the state and county levels.

When the money runs out, and it will, the schools that are successful with their improvements will have my recommendation to continue with their programs. This will help us to analyze how we can even further advance education for our children without keeping positions that will no longer be funded by the Race to the Top Grant.

Here is what GOP candidate John Barge said:

I congratulate the Governor, his staff, the former Superintendent and the current School Superintendent for this hard fought victory.  They put a lot of hard work into this grant application and they deserve a great deal of credit for all they do to help our children and our schools.

As I have said in the past, if elected, I will faithfully administer the programs and policies set by the Governor and the General Assembly and look forward to doing so if I am chosen to be our next School Superintendent.

One of the many positive outcomes of today’s announcement is that my Democrat opponent can no longer hide behind this distraction.   He has consistently brought up this moot issue, that is now resolved, to divert attention away from the simple fact that he is not qualified for this office and cannot even be hired as a classroom teacher in any public school in Georgia.

And here is what Democratic candidate for school chief Joe Martin had to say:

I congratulate the people at the state who have worked so hard to obtain this grant. We need all the help we can get.

However, this grant is only a Band-aid for the huge cuts in State funding to our schools in recent years. It amounts to $100 million per year for four years, while the funding of our schools has been cut by over $1 billion in the current year alone.

Some adjustments will have to be made over time. The application includes a detailed compensation plan for all educators, which is tied to standardized tests. Any evaluation must include student performance, but the measures must be broader than scores on standardized tests.

34 comments Add your comment


August 24th, 2010
2:29 pm

GOOD!!! Hopefully GA piece of the pie will be pulled away and that right soon. Perhaps the Feds could best serve in locating a proper diet plan for Beverly “cupcake” Hall.


August 24th, 2010
2:37 pm

Dr. NO – it’s people like you, who gives Georgia and the education system in “Georgia” a bad name.

If Georgia loses the Race to the Top funds due to it’s school chief and governor; they will be in the unemployment lines very quickly.


August 24th, 2010
2:39 pm

Did you ask him what he thought about APS and their 2009 CRCT scores, their graduation rates, and e-Rate?

I know it’s about the whole state, but it’s also another way for Jaba, I mean Beverly, to finagle more bonuses for herself. And her chauffeur, and her chauffeur’s chauffeur.

Just sayin.

GA Educator

August 24th, 2010
2:42 pm

Are you kidding? Do you honestly think that $400 million over 4 years is enough to even make an impact at the school level? Or even the county level? Absolutely not worth the strings attached to this money.

Don't ask don't tell

August 24th, 2010
2:42 pm

Of course Maureen didn’t ask. She’s part of the “exceeding polite” cartel.

Don't ask don't tell

August 24th, 2010
2:43 pm

exceedingly that is

Nice photo

August 24th, 2010
2:49 pm

What’s the photo with the blog show? Duncan marching in lockstep with the person at the helm of the biggest cheating scandal in Georgia’s educational history, not saying one word about accountability for the person at the top.

Not only not one word, they rewarded her with an advisory position. And you trust this guy?

Tired of the rat race

August 24th, 2010
3:02 pm

I’m confused. Why does everyone thinks this is a good thing…simple math equates to approx. $60/year for each student. How’s that supposed to change things? And I haven’t even considered that it will not be evenly distributed, but will filter to those who signed on first (which is fine by me, I’m happy my county did not)…and that is only if we don’t waste too much on creating more “positions” to oversee, plan, analyze, and implement. No teacher or classroom will see this money


August 24th, 2010
3:15 pm

EnoughBSAlready…Good. There is colossal waste in the education system and layoffs need to occur. The public domain should respond just as the private domain. Times get tough people lose jobs.

Obama is a jackass.

And Beverly “cupcake” Hall should be the first to go. And who is Andy Young to voice his opinion on the APS issue.


August 24th, 2010
3:20 pm

Andy Young and Shirley-Gurl just show what bigots they are. Instead of wanting to get to the truth and help these kids, most of whom are destined for prison, they just wanna feather their nest.

Its an APS thang.


August 24th, 2010
3:35 pm

How will implementation done well be evaluated? Particularly since the applications were so desparate? So many things Georgia has done had NO performance evaluations in place. Can they separate the implementation from the results of the changes?


August 24th, 2010
3:52 pm

If there is no mandate that the $60 per student MUST be spent in the classroom, as much as possible will be sucked up by the state and local bureaucracies. Before any child receives additional help, all administrative jobs will be protected. Anything left over may be seen in the classroom. Which means nothing will be felt there at all.

Proud Black Man

August 24th, 2010
3:54 pm

Lets see…we don’t want the money, all parents are f’ed up, Obama is a jackass, all black elected officials are crooks, ajc is in the pocket of the democrats, black kids are nothing but trouble, ONCE AGAIN we don’t want the money…BUT DON”T RAISE OUR TAXES!!!

Did I miss any of the white right’s talking points?

come on now

August 24th, 2010
4:01 pm

PBM you forgot the part on how we are winning the ‘DRUG WAR”. You can marry who I tell you to. I’m sure I left out some other stuff, maybe something to do with grizzles but maybe I will remember later.

Payday loan

August 24th, 2010
4:05 pm

Sonny has already admitted a significant portion of it will not be spent directly in the classroom.

It really is one of these items where you have to be either an idiot to support it, or have a political agenda for supporting it.

come on now

August 24th, 2010
4:05 pm

RttT is just a way that the GA legislature can get around putting merit pay into place. We don’t want to but FEDERAL mandates say we must.

I hope yall like that feeling, cause it was both the dems and republicans that screwed our kids over.


August 24th, 2010
4:42 pm

Pray for more federal intervention! It will take a mandated change of attitudes and lots more than $400 million to catapult Georgia into a 21st Century education-orbit.

Andy Young is getting old

August 24th, 2010
4:48 pm

He just said Hall should stay, and that he didn’t care about the largest cheating scandal in the state’s educational history. Sounds like a bitter old man whose time has passed.

What A Waste Of Good Money

August 24th, 2010
4:54 pm

Arne better start the process now because the money will be wasted, period…….oh, and PBM, you’re right on the money with your comments……and remember, you said it first.


August 24th, 2010
5:03 pm

@Proud Black Man – I don’t think what you are saying is fair. I’m not under the impression this is a racial argument and that certainly shouldn’t be injected into this discussion, in my opinion. I think everyone understands that this country is a majority white and therefore they are the majority of the public school attendees (outside of major cities, most small and medium sized towns are white majority) so money for schools is just that money for schools regardless of race. I’m a minority woman and I disagree with this point. I appreciate you being proud though if that’s any consolation.

Proud Black Man

August 24th, 2010
5:33 pm

@ Tinytam

1. I don’t care what you think.
2. Your opinion means jack to me.
3. I appreciate your aunt Jemima talking points if that’s any consolation.

the prof

August 24th, 2010
7:22 pm

PBM…you are showing you whiteness again and again!


August 24th, 2010
7:24 pm

Too bad we can’t get out of NCLB by implementing it poorly. You know, like setting standards on the floor, promoting children who can’t or won’t meet those low standards, etc.?

Mikey D

August 24th, 2010
8:18 pm

Duncan the dunce says, “Hundreds and hundreds of individuals put in a huge amount of hours and came up with great plan.”….
Yeah, too bad that group didn’t include teachers. sonny said he didn’t think he needed to include teachers in the discussions.

Proud Black Man

August 24th, 2010
8:38 pm

@ the prof

Ahhh I see my number one fan is back! I hope all was well at the NAMBLA conference?

Atlanta Media Guy

August 24th, 2010
10:27 pm

I do not want my kids anywhere near Arne Duncan! Isn’t he the guy who hired the so-called safe schools czar, Kevin Jennings, who regrets not reporting a child predator and pushes books and education about gay sex to children? Before anyone goes crazy, my 11 year old has Godfathers, who are a gay couple and partners for 20+ years. I do believe there is a time and place to teach kids about homosexuality and it should be done on the parents timeline, not educators and certianly not Kevin Jennings. The books he has endorsed for kids are trash! I’ve read several. Arne is also very pro National Curriculum. I don’t think the feds should be involved in educating our kids. If they want to fund certain aspects, fine! Just let our locals handle it.

Here in DeKalb, the parents and stakeholders are working on taking our system back. We have a tough road ahead, but our ultimate goal is to get the nepotism, cronyism, fraud and fiduciary responsibility back into the classroom, where it will help the kids learn. Not in the hands of a few who are more concerned about lining their own pockets with OUR tax dollars.


August 24th, 2010
11:47 pm

Oh, and don’t forget, every penny of this money is BORROWED. Jeez – can we get the feds OUT of the education business? All that has happened since the DoEducation has been created is that they have shown us how crappily they can screw up our schools. Woo woo.

We need more accountability by PARENTS. That’s ONLY going to happen when parents are FORCED to choose the schools for their kids. As the DoEducation why only wealthy families have school choice?

PBM: We already pay an inordinate amount of money for education in this state – way more than many other states who have better education. So it’s *not* about the money – it’s about the SYSTEM. About how the money is SPENT.

New Blood Needed

August 25th, 2010
4:56 am

Kira Willis is the only one that seems to have an actual plan. The other two gave REALLY political answers with no substance. Barge would rather sling mud on Martin than acknowledge the fact that his response is a huge waffle and that he has no plan.

The people will speak! New blood needed!

New Blood Needed

August 25th, 2010
4:57 am


August 25th, 2010
8:05 am

Ya…Andy Young is a used up ugly womens purse and should shut his ignorant mouth.


August 25th, 2010
2:27 pm

$60 per student? Does that mean we can junk these literature books and finally get some texts that align to the standards?

…oh wait, my students and I will never see one red cent of that money. It will all go towards those “consultants” at the school board who are not even qualified to teach my content area.

Lisa B.

August 25th, 2010
2:40 pm

It’s my understanding that only the 23 or so school systems that accepted the invitation to participate in the RTT application process will receive any RTT funds. My system was not invited to participate, so we get to implement the new mandates without receiving any new funds. Gosh, this is familiar!


August 25th, 2010
6:51 pm

Booklover, that’s exactly what we got for our stimulus funds! It’s great; a PE teacher with less education than anyone in the department telling us how we should teach science! Everyone should be so lucky! :-)

M & M

August 25th, 2010
9:28 pm

I’ll second New Blood Needed. Willis seems to be the only candidate with decent ideas or qualifications. She’s running a strong campaign and if she does as well as think she could in the debates, things could get very, very interesting.