Georgia wins a Race to the Top grant. Are we winning $400 million in innovation or interference?

Georgia won a Race to the Top grant. Waiting for a statement from the governor and DOE and participating in a 1 p.m. media call with the U.S. Secretary of Education. I will add details as I get them. The grant is expected to be around $400 million, although I have not gotten DOE confirmation of the amount yet.

Other winners of a slice of the $3.4 billion remaining in the grant fund are  District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island. There were 19 finalists for this second round.

From US DOE:

“We had many more competitive applications than money to fund them in this round,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “We’re very hopeful there will be a Phase 3 of Race to the Top and have requested $1.35 billion dollars in next year’s budget. In the meantime, we will partner with each and every state that applied to help them find ways to carry out the bold reforms they’ve proposed in their applications.”

A total of 46 states and the District of Columbia put together comprehensive education reform plans to apply for Race to the Top in Phases 1 and 2. Over the course of the Race to the Top competition, 35 states and the District of Columbia have adopted rigorous common, college- and career-ready standards in reading and math, and 34 states have changed laws or policies to improve education.

Every state that applied has already done the hard work of collaboratively creating a comprehensive education reform agenda. In the coming months, the Department plans to bring states together to help ensure the success of their work implementing reforms around college- and career-ready standards, data systems, great teachers and leaders, and school turnarounds.

I know that many of you fear the federal stranglehold on our schools, but I welcome the money and the opportunities that RTTT will bring.

Statements are rolling in: Here is one from Steve Dolinger of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education:

This is very exciting news for Georgia and for our public education system. We congratulate and offer our thanks to the state leaders who led our Race to the Top application process.

The award of the Race to the Top funds will boost the momentum Georgia has built in creating a consistently improving public education system.  With this money come a great opportunity and a huge challenge for our educational leaders.  They must use every dollar wisely and stay focused on getting the most from this investment for the future of our young people.  This award should be seen as a vote of confidence and an energizer to continue our move forward. It’s time to get to work.

47 comments Add your comment

EnoughAlready

August 24th, 2010
11:31 am

The only constraint the state of Georgia has when it comes to education is the constriction we place on ourselves. We should embrace the opportunity to be innovative and take the handcuffs off of ourselves. It’s what you do with the money that will count in the end, not where it came from.

V for Vendetta

August 24th, 2010
11:35 am

You’re kidding yourselves if you think this money will in any way impact students in the classroom.

APS Teacher

August 24th, 2010
11:40 am

Wahoo! Now we can spend extra money policing teachers and hiring more central office employees!!!!!!

M G

August 24th, 2010
11:43 am

I’m willing to bet there will be a negative impact from this money in a great many of our classrooms.

With another layer of documentation and even MORE emphasis on test scores, the teachers willing to teach in low income schools will be few and far between. Especially since there is now research that shows that up to 90% of variance in a single test measure is due to factors outside the control of the teacher.

Mac

August 24th, 2010
11:49 am

This will be seen as one of the worst things to ever happen for education. Mark my words.

EnoughAlready

August 24th, 2010
11:55 am

“Especially since there is now research that shows that up to 90% of variance in a single test measure is due to factors outside the control of the teacher.”

Total HOG WASH !!!!!

GA Educator

August 24th, 2010
11:56 am

I agree with MG. Whether or not my student had breakfast this morning, broke up with his girlfriend last night, got in a fight with Mom in the car on the way to school, stayed up until 4:00 am texting, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. are factors beyond MY control come test day. Time to look for a new career where I can actually be FAIRLY evaluated based on my efforts and contributions.

Ken

August 24th, 2010
12:01 pm

MG, This is not intended to initiate a heated civil rights discussion, but, I sincerely believe that Georgia would still retain pockets of segregated education w/out federal intervention (Brown and derivative funding). Another point, “factors outside the control of the teacher” has long been a rhetorical dodge to the failure of teachers’administrators (primarily administrators who fold to local political dynamics).

Sure enough already

August 24th, 2010
12:01 pm

Just get Perez Hilton off TMZ, give him a PE teacher well versed in research based best practices, hold him to “high expectations” and he’ll be running stride for stride with Usain Bolt in no time.

What this is.

August 24th, 2010
12:02 pm

It’s the moral equivalent of a payday loan.

EnoughAlready

August 24th, 2010
12:11 pm

GA Educator

August 24th, 2010
11:56 am

GOOD LUCK FINDING THAT OCCUPATION. AND LET ME KNOW IF YOU FIND ONE.

M G

August 24th, 2010
12:14 pm

Here’s the name of the study Error Rates in Measuring Teacher and School Performance Based on Student Test Score Gains. It was done by Peter Z. Schochet and Hanley S. Chaing of the Mathematica Policy Research and published July 2010 by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences. Here’s the link to download it for yourself. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20104004/pdf/20104004.pdf On page 35, the authors state “Our results are largely driven by findings from the literature and new analyses that more than 90 percent of the variation in student gain scores is due to the variation in student-level factors that are not under the control of the teacher. Thus, multiple years of performance data are required to reliably detect a teacher’s true long-run performance…”

Concerned Henry Co. Parent

August 24th, 2010
12:16 pm

Great! Since my county signed on to RTTT, and the majority of my child’s class is failing Math I after just three weeks, the teacher can be fired immediately – right?

Attentive Parent

August 24th, 2010
12:34 pm

Concerned-

I made the comment on the Perdue thread that the new Governor and State School Super need to allow the nonparticipating districts to retain implementation autonony so we can finally get better comparison data on what is and is not effective.

For example, the participating districts agreed to push classroom instruction and professional devt based on the inquiry oriented Instructional Frameworks in their contracts with the state.

Districts that chose not to participate because they believe their students and teachers perform best when the emphasis is on learning the desired content and skills need to be allowed to keep the benefit of their bargain. Less money but more autonomy.

I think this will be an important question in this fall’s elections.

Richard Woods

August 24th, 2010
12:41 pm

I await to hear the reaction from the candidates. My heart goes out to the teachers, students, and parents who live in the school systems that signed up for the Race to Nowhere.

Maureen Downey

August 24th, 2010
12:51 pm

@Richard Woods, I have a call into John Barge, Kira Willis and Joe Martin. Will post their comments when I get them.
Maureen

me

August 24th, 2010
12:55 pm

@Ken

If administrators don’t ‘fold to local political dynamics’ then they don’t keep their jobs.

just sayin’

HBTD

August 24th, 2010
1:00 pm

While happy for the State of Ga., I do question the motivation by the Federal government in the selection process, i.e. OHIO, FLORIDA and GEORGIA. It kind of has the smell of trying to buy votes in 3 key political swing states.

Mike

August 24th, 2010
1:02 pm

Maureen,
why wait for their reply. Here it is straight from the Superstar Super of Hall County in the local paper:

“I was with both Republican nominees (Nathan Deal and John Barge) as late as yesterday, and I think they’re in a position to fully implement the plan,” Schofield said.

See? No worries!

Maureen Downey

August 24th, 2010
1:04 pm

@MIke, Your super gets around. Also got this note from Hall today:
Good Morning,

If you have been following media reports, schools across the country are receiving an unexpected second round of federal stimulus funds. While we do not have the full details and the money has not begun to flow, we want to prepare to utilize these funds to support classroom instruction. With that in mind, please plan to be in school on Monday, February 21, 2011. While we had initially planned a four day weekend for both staff and students, this appears to be our best opportunity to utilize an additional day to provide instruction to our students. When the funding is solidified, we will recommend an official board action to change our calendar. If the law allows, our plan will be to pay our team members for this additional day in a lump sum in December.

I apologize for the late change, but the timing of the stimulus vote gave us few options. Thank you for your continued efforts to prepare our boys and girls for the future that awaits them.

GA Educator

August 24th, 2010
1:05 pm

I SINCERELY hope the ‘Concerned Henry Co. Parent’ is joking. Fire a teacher three weeks into the school year because the ‘majority’ of a math class is failing (which I’d be willing bet my right arm is not the case)!? Get a CLUE! Your kid is most likely failing and over-exaggerating. Now we can be crucified by parents AND the state! Thanks, RTTT!

HBTD

August 24th, 2010
1:10 pm

Any chance property tax notices get adjusted downward in light of these federal funds for education?

Mike

August 24th, 2010
1:18 pm

Maureen,

Wish we could get him around some of our school buildings.

Lot of folks already unhappy with that one too. Parents with plans already made mainly. Don’t even know if the money can be used for this from what I understand v

We’re taking bets around the office on how quickly he will be moving on to a RTTT funded state level position leaving ours schools with a big ol mess. You want in on the action?

Ken

August 24th, 2010
1:32 pm

@me,
You’re correct which points out that an administrator’s self-preservation routinely trumps the best interests of the children; administrators aren’t an altruistic bunch.

Kim

August 24th, 2010
1:35 pm

Does anyone know if there are any plans for evaluating the effects and impacts associated with the reform implementations associated with this grant? I ran off the actual application, but could not find the accountability factors. Considering the cheating scandal associated with the CRCT, I hope that test scores will not be the only measure of increased student achievement or teacher evaluation. Will the public be afforded transparency in how the funds are spent? I noticed a request in the application for hiring a PR firm to promote the reform initiatives. I have a hard time believing that this would be an efficient use of grant money versus hiring teachers and decreasing their workload in order to create the necessary time that the adoption of new strategies requires. I wonder how much will be spent on notebooks and printing to house all of the “novel” mandates.

Michael

August 24th, 2010
1:36 pm

Cool, more money to steal, waste or hide. Maybe we can build one of those $400 million schools now. Oh you know the administrators are licking their self-dealing chops!

B.D.

August 24th, 2010
1:43 pm

Ok, a lot of vitriol here about RTTT money. But teachers are being dismissed, en masse, due to budget cuts, as a result of the new religion called Tax Cuts Cure Any Problem. No politician dares to suggest (choke!) an actual tax increase, since the bleating from the far right would drown out any thoughtful, rational discussion.

So, how about we (1) acknowledge that schools are in trouble, (2) take the money, (3) stay engaged enough to hold school district administrations accountable for how the money is used, and (4) act like the adults our kids expect us to be? Yeah, maybe they’re playing games with the budget, but at least the funny money is going to schools for a change.

Concerned Henry Co. Parent

August 24th, 2010
1:44 pm

Ga Educator – Yes, I was joking – sort of. I am not in favor of RTTT, and hate that our BOE signed on. I am disgusted with the Federal and State “educrats” who push down ridiculous mandates that are killing our public schools. The only hope our victims (I mean children) have of making it through this idiocy is the many dedicated teachers who close their doors and actually teach.

And yes, my kid is failing Math after three weeks. And yes, it’s partly his fault, but there are a lot of other factors involved – a weak teacher, a muddled math curriculum, terrible textbooks, etc. But being one of those “pushy” parents, I have hired a math tutor to help him pass the class. You gotta love the new math curriculum!

Now on to his 9th grade English project – “Book in a Bag” – the kids read a novel, decorate a paper bag on the outside, and fill the inside with items related to the book. He even has a page long rubric, courtesy of the State of GA, to tell him how to proceed through the project. You know it’s so old-fashioned to just write a book report these days! And we wonder why our kids can’t write!

Retired teacher

August 24th, 2010
1:47 pm

This is just going to be another case where some well-marketed educational program gets purchased, utilized for a few years after many days of teacher workshops, and then is trashed for another expensive program. When will systems stop buying all these “perfect programs” to make brilliant students? Most of this money will be in the central office, where it seems they transfer all the really bad principals that parents and teachers detest. Of course, these former principals continue to get their same pay they received when they were incompetent principals.

Retired teacher

August 24th, 2010
1:51 pm

To Concerned Henry County Parent – I would be concerned about the English project, too. My 2nd graders had that same project as an option for an end-of-novel project. That should not be a 9th grade project.

Amazed

August 24th, 2010
2:17 pm

Wow…do people sit around and wait for news to come out so you can point out all the negatives? Can you at least WAIT and see, where the money is going and how it will be used before making such statements…with such negative spirits how does anything positive happens in your lives?

Oh Please

August 24th, 2010
2:17 pm

More funds for Fishing Hole #2. I’d bet my good dollar that NONE of this money ends up where it should be. I, too, am all for lowering the property taxes for the counties who receive this $. I really, really weep for these teachers. Really I do. They get the rat end of the stick in good times and bad.

me

August 24th, 2010
2:19 pm

@ Ken

Not really (though many aren’t), they just have families to feed and mortgages too. The ones that dare to speak out wind up in a position where they have zero chance of helping anyone. At least by picking their battles they have a chance here and there to do some good.

National Board Certified Teacher

August 24th, 2010
2:22 pm

So now maybe the State of Georgia will keep its part of the contract it made with me when I put in the extra time, effort, and money to become National Board Certified? It is demoralizing to work for over a year to prove that I am one of the state’s best teachers and then have to take a cut in pay when the state decides that my 200 page narrative portfolio, videos of my teaching, student work samples, written reflection, computerized testing over subject matter and proof of work “above and beyond” my job requirements aren’t good enough to prove that I deserve a 10% pay raise. Although it is a NATIONAL program and teachers from all over the country go through the same process to prove excellence, somehow Georgia’s legislators feel that this is not good enough, but instead they think that teachers need to do whatever it takes to produce automatons that can score well on standardized tests. There are other, better ways to measure student achievement and there are other, better ways to measure teacher effectiveness.

catlady

August 24th, 2010
3:03 pm

I’d say we are getting a whole lot more that $400 million in interference! Is that a bargain or what!

I am guessing there is no performance evaluation rubric attached to Race to the Trough.

another comment

August 24th, 2010
3:06 pm

yes, 3/4 of the kids are failing the Math 1, and Math 2 classes. Then they took my child who had the top grade in the Math class and was helping the other kids in the class last week and told her she was being moved to another teacher. I said enough, either keep her with this teacher or give her the Math teacher she had last year. Absolute insanity.

I also thought it was ridiculous for the 9th grade English and this was the IB level, use a Shoe box and put items in to represent the book. I spent about $40 at Michael’s buying stuff to put in and decorate the stupid Shoe box. Then she had to cut up strips of paper of quotes and put them in the shoe box. Then she gets a B on the Shoe box she had less than 3 minutes to present. This was suppose to be a college level class, since when in college do you do craft projects for English lit. projects. This is nonsense and how does this relate to real world. My child wants to be a lawyer, how many lawyers make shoebox projects. They write briefs and letters.

The school eliminated the course that should have been mandatory for every student the one that taught them how to balance a checkbook and write a resume. The Introduction to Business Class, only in Georgia, the third world counry, where some boys take team sports for 1/4 of there credit every semester.

Dr NO

August 24th, 2010
3:24 pm

“Can you at least WAIT and see, where the money is going and how it will be used before making such statements…”

We have seen. For year upon years we have seen incompetence run amuck with Atl city govt, with APS, Fulton/Dekalb/Clayton Counties. We have seen Imam Obamas incompetence…and he is too stupid to get anything right other than styling and profilin.

Dr NO

August 24th, 2010
3:26 pm

“It’s what you do with the money that will count in the end, not where it came from.”

No it isnt. Where it came from and the strings attached is precisely the point but I wouldnt expect liberals like yourself to particpate in anything other than self-denial.

B.D.

August 24th, 2010
3:54 pm

Ok, Dr. No-Ideas…do you have some better ideas on school funding? If so, please share them. All I see from you is blathering the standard wingnut drivel about Obama, with no suggestions about good alternatives for schools.

Are you willing to pay a little more tax money to rehire some teachers? What about if some of those impacted schoolchildren are from Republican families? Does that make it a different issue for you? What if some of those children are the children of soldiers? Is that worth a couple of dollars of tax money from you? Or is your idea of “supporting our troops” just to watch the nightly bombing footage on Fox?

Idiot.

Tinytam

August 24th, 2010
4:54 pm

B.D. – I like your style. I wish more bloggers or commentors had the courage to effect some positive change instead of complaining and offering some partisan/political spin to everything. We get that you dislike our president, okay – check that off? We get that you don’t like public education, okay – check that off? Now what is the question. How much time has any person complaining about the schools spent working on a local level to improve their school(s)? Time in the classroom? Mentoring or volunteering? Attending school board meetings and offering suggestions/solutions? I’m not saying that we should throw money at the problem or create more red tape or strings for the educators in the classroom but at least become a productive part of the discussion. Red or blue, Republican or Democrat! Someone needs to start offering real solutions and not just spouting destructive messages!

Read to your children

August 24th, 2010
5:13 pm

While we are blaming teachers for student outcome, how about the parents? What role do they play in our failing schools. Research has proven time and time again that if children are not read to and stimulated frequently in the first three years, they will be forever behind. Parents seem to think the teachers can make brilliant children with no help from home. It is a partnership. Parents are the first teachers, and critical ones at that.

Line up and jump

August 24th, 2010
5:59 pm

Dear Amazed,
It is difficult to be positive about RTTT when those of use who have followed the “winners” in other states have observed the fallout. I enourage you to do a little research. . . Louisiana teachers have their certification renewal and salaries tied to test scores as a result of race to the top. How would you like to teach a special needs group in Louisiana? What about a group who doesn’t speak English? How about working in an inner city school there? Yes, exactly . . . I think I would like to teach the Advanced Placement group and if you don’t mind, could I submit a list of student names I would like to see on my class roster? ; )

CKB

August 24th, 2010
6:29 pm

It’s 6:30 and I have been at school since 7:15 this morning and I am still not finished with my work. I caught myself reading these comments when I heard the “wonderful news” and I am happy to see that the public agrees that my success cannot be tied to the standardized testing results of my students. It is my 26th year teaching and although I love teaching…I am fed up with what is called “teaching” by today’s standards. I am furloughed, I have lost a planning period (now I have two 45 minutes planning periods for the entire week), I have 28 students and I am expected to perform miracles. I know that I asked to be in this profession, but it was because I loved children and I wanted to help them and now, sadly, that is not enough.

Miracle Worker

August 24th, 2010
7:53 pm

Line Up and Jump make a wonderful point. The teachers that have Honors and AP students will obviously be in the best position if their test scores are tied to our (yes, I am a teacher) ability to make a living. The schools will have to de-track all classes to make it fair for teachers. For those that don’t know what this means – there will no longer be Honors or AP or Special Ed classes, but all students will have to be mixed in together. How is this fair to the students? How is this fair to the teachers? Did I mention that there will be 30+ students of mixed levels in each class?

Several months ago, I told my students that they had better hope that there are out of school before merit pay became an issue, as the teachers will be much harder on them and require more intense studies no matter what level they are. There was a short conversation that followed, and then one of the students says, “So… you’re sayin’ that if a student doesn’t like his teacher, he can just fail the test on purpose?” Do you see where this could go very quickly? Students using this test against the teacher… what effect does it really have on the student? They can retake tests until they pass them… This is a load of junk. If they really cared about the students, they would make the merit pay an bonus program and add it on top of the teacher’s regular salary.

As far as solutions… how about RAISING TAXES! How hard is that? There are other states that are taxing alcohol and tobacco which is producing over $50M/year. That about half of what Obama and friends are promising us but with NO STRINGS ATTACHED. How about something to hold the kids accountable and maybe some parent accountability???

[...] Despite rejoicing among supporters of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s grant application and criticism and fears of increased federal control of Georgia schools by opponents, the amount of money isn’t really earth-shattering. $400 million amounts to a little more than half of DeKalb County School System’s annual budget. If the proposed reforms work and spread, the money spent will seem like a bargain. For more coverage, see Education Week’s online edition and ajc.com’s Get Schooled. [...]

Jimmy Mac

August 25th, 2010
6:51 am

Please take a concerned look at the trailers for this documentary. I saw this at the Carter Center two weeks ago. It is a film that shows the SAD condition of our public schools specifically in the State of New Jersey. Beverly Hall came to APS from Newark, NJ.
http://www.thecartelmovie.com
Monopolies just don’t work in this country and I don’t see why we don’t accept more public CHOICES for our children’s education! Have a great day.

fulldawg

August 25th, 2010
9:37 am

Just follow the money – let’s see how much ends up at Curriculum Advantage owned by Lindsey Cook (Vince Dooley’s son-in-law) and contributor to Senator Bill Cowsert’s campaign. Cowsert was a major sponsor of the Merit Pay Bill last year in the General Assembly.