Perdue: Now, the real race begins to put the $400 million to work for Georgia students

Gov. Perdue is thrilled that Georgia won a Race to the Top grant.

Gov. Perdue is thrilled that Georgia won a Race to the Top grant.

As you might imagine, the governor is thrilled to win Race to the Top, telling us last week that while he hated the Obama administration’s health care initiatives, he “loved them on education” because they reflected his own priorities. That shared vision just paid off big for Georgia with the news we won a $400 million Race to the Top grant.

(The other winning states are: District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.)

Congrats to Gov. Perdue, former Superintendent Kathy Cox and their team. They did this through sheer grit. This really was Perdue’s race to win. He led the effort. He used his people and he pressed the feds. He developed a relationship with the Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

I am not sure this $400 million negates the billion in state cuts to education over the last eight years, but it doesn’t hurt.

One interesting fact about this release from the Governor’s Office. When we lost the first round of Race to the Top, Cox told me that she wanted a classroom teacher to be part of the next team that went to DC to pitch our application in round two. She had a sense that a perceived  lack of enthusiasm among teachers for Race to the Top might have hurt us.

But it looks to me that we sent the same team so I wonder how important teacher buy-in was to this whole enterprise? Essentially, we sent the Perdue education team and Gwinnett Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks. (Cox had already resigned and left Georgia at that point so her replacement at DOE Brad Bryant took her spot on the team.)

Here is Sonny Perdue’s statement:

Governor Sonny Perdue today announced that Georgia was selected as a winner by the U.S. Department of Education for the second round of “Race to the Top” grants. The state is projected to receive $400 million over four years to implement its plan.

“While this has seemed more like a marathon at times, now the real race begins,” said Governor Perdue. “I want to thank our Race to the Top teams, including teachers, principals, superintendents and other education professionals, for their hard work in preparing a great application. This is truly a unique opportunity to implement a Georgia-created plan that will accelerate our work in improving student achievement.”

Two weeks ago, a team of five Georgia education professionals traveled to Washington, D.C. to present Georgia’s application to a five-person panel of evaluators. State Board of Education Chair Wanda Barrs, State Superintendent of Schools Brad Bryant, Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks, Governor Perdue’s Director of Policy Erin Hames and Governor’s Office of Student Achievement Executive Director Kathleen Mathers made up the Georgia team.

The Race to the Top fund is a $4 billion grant opportunity provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to support new approaches to improve schools. The fund is available in the form of competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are creating conditions for education innovation and reform, specifically implementing ambitious plans in four education reform areas:

  • Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
  • Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
  • Recruiting, preparing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
  • Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.

“I am so pleased that Georgia has been named a winner of Race to the Top,” said Superintendent Bryant.  “Going for Race to the Top has never been about just the money, but more about further development of our foundation to drive increased student achievement.  But now that we have the additional resources, we can put an even greater focus on implementing that foundation for the benefit of Georgia’s students.”

Georgia’s application was prepared through a partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Office of Student Achievement, the Georgia Department of Education and education stakeholders. Four working groups and a fifth critical feedback team consisting of teachers, principals, superintendents, higher education faculty, non-profit and informal education organizations, state policy makers, and members of the business and philanthropic communities developed the ideas for inclusion in the state’s application.

Recommendations focus on strengthening traditional and alternative preparation programs for teachers and leaders, supporting teachers more effectively in the classroom, evaluating teachers and leaders with consistent and objective criteria that inform instruction, and rewarding great teachers and leaders with performance-based salary increases.

The application also calls for Georgia to adopt and implement common curricular standards and internationally-benchmarked assessments that indicate Georgia’s ability to compete within a globally-connected economy.  The State Board of Education adopted these standards in July.

Twenty-six local school districts have signed on to partner with the state in implementing Georgia’s Race to the Top plan. These districts, which make up 41 percent of public school students in Georgia, include: Atlanta, Ben Hill, Bibb, Burke, Carrolton, Chatham, Cherokee, Clayton, Dade, DeKalb, Dougherty, Gainesville, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Jones, Meriwether, Muscogee, Peach, Pulaski, Rabun, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Valdosta and White.  The participating districts include 46 percent of Georgia’s students in poverty, 53 percent of Georgia’s African American students, 48 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of the state’s lowest achieving schools.

Georgia added three school districts, Dade, Peach and Pulaski, to the 23 districts that applied in the first round as part of its Phase II application.  The three new districts were chosen to align federal School Improvement Grants with Race to the Top.

The state will work closely with these systems to implement the ideas contained in the application. 50 percent of the funds awarded to Georgia will be distributed to the local partners to meaningfully enact the Race to the Top reforms. The state will study the effectiveness of these practices to identify and scale up those that prove to be effective.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation selected 15 states, including Georgia, to benefit from technical assistance for Race to the Top application development. The states were selected based on how well poised they are to win Race to the Top based on progress in education policy and reform. Georgia partnered with The Parthenon Group, a consulting firm based in Boston, which specializes in part in education reform.

28 comments Add your comment


August 24th, 2010
12:12 pm

Another 400 million dollars down the drain. *FLUSH*


August 24th, 2010
12:15 pm

Yea, we need the money, now we need to use it in the right places. I hope the looters don’t get to it before the kids do.

Attentive Parent

August 24th, 2010
12:21 pm

The nonparticipating school districts made a rational decision that the amounts received by a given district over four years were simply not worth the loss of curricular, faculty, and instructional autonomy.

An interesting and important question for the candidates in the state school super race is how much autonomy will the new state super allow these districts?

Independence instead of the type of rigid, top down, “you will all go to integrated math and this is how you must teach it” should allow the type of important comparisons over time to allow decision makers to learn what is effective and what is an expensive mistake.

Maybe it would also make an excellent question for the governor’s race.

GA Teach

August 24th, 2010
12:28 pm

The money will not help districts employee teachers. In Gwinnett they are going to use the money to implement Merit based pay…..end of story. It is only 15 million a year for 4 years.

This money is not provided to prevent layoffs.

Dunwoody Mom

August 24th, 2010
12:30 pm

I shudder to think about the many ways this money will be mis-spent. Alvin Wilbanks? Oh, the horror.


August 24th, 2010
12:45 pm

I love how all the conservatives moan about federal intrusion in everything BUT education. When it comes to education it’s “please give us some money and tell us what to do.” I wonder if one of the improvements mentioned in our application was doing away with any previous class size caps? The bottom line is this…no teachers were involved in this application…the Perdue administration has done less for public education than any governor in a hundred years. Kiss your local control of schools good-bye.

Stick to it

August 24th, 2010
12:49 pm

Stick to DeKalb Dunwoody Mom…

We like Wilbanks in Gwinnett as opposed to your C-Lewless super

high school teacher

August 24th, 2010
12:52 pm

I think I just felt the first string inserted into my shoulder. The rest of my puppet transformation comes with the money.


August 24th, 2010
12:57 pm

I need to get pants with a hole in the rear cause I am about to get the shaft. Thanks Perdue. Its a shame that your own mother was a teacher and you just slap us around.


August 24th, 2010
12:59 pm

I find it interesting that we were the only state that voted Republican in the election that won in this round? I wonder why that is? The rest for the most part have been Democratic states.


August 24th, 2010
1:15 pm

sonny purdue is a shameless hypocrite. Hate them on health care but love them on education. What tripe! sonny has been a wrecking ball for education in this state. He is absolutely pathetic.


August 24th, 2010
1:21 pm

@ Attentive Parent,

What exactly do you mean by “integrated math”?


August 24th, 2010
1:32 pm

HAHAHAHA wasted money even before the states gets it. How much of the $400 Mill will endup in a family members pocket? Money will not make our children smarter! Just look what money has done for Paris H., Tori S., and Kim K! You know the people female children aspire to be and male children think are Beautiful. Money did so much for Tyson, OJ, and Mel Gibson. Money can’t make the Students smart. Get rid of Govenrment Education in Georgia! It is a JOKE. Just put that money right into the Jails and save the time.


August 24th, 2010
1:36 pm

Don’t pick on Sonny Purdue. He is a UGA grad. He don’t know nothing bout no edgumakshun. He can Drink you under the table though.

God Bless the Teacher!

August 24th, 2010
2:08 pm

LLL – I’m certain @ Attntive Parent meant the new Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) math, which involves integrating algebra, geometry, and statistics/data analysis strands of standards. This is the “new” math most everyone hates.

Maureen – if 50% of the money is going local to help implement whatever plans the signed-on districts have in mind, where is the other 50% going? Does this mean the non-signed districts aren’t going to receive anything from the grant?


August 24th, 2010
2:26 pm

I’m happy Georgia won the Race to the Top. Let’s just pray the money will be used to improve schools and hire the right people for the positions in the school systems. We don’t need any of the pushing pencil kinda folk looking out for their best interest to make the school systems look bad!


August 24th, 2010
2:33 pm

get ready…a corresponding cut of 400 million to QBE is on the horizon….


August 24th, 2010
2:35 pm

Perhaps schools will hire back some of the many School Library Media Specialists that were laid off this year. Libraries are an integral part of education, yet many School Librarians were let go and several schools have little to no money for library books due to budget issues and a lack of legislative support for school libraries and librarians. But no, I bet instead they will spend that money on scantron sheets for bubbling in test answers.


August 24th, 2010
3:34 pm


August 24th, 2010
2:35 pm

Now theres a thought…NOT!


August 24th, 2010
3:40 pm

eduprin: You betcha! Just like Georgia quit funding the SSIG, a partnership of federal and state money for low income college students, when HOPE came along, IN DIRECT CONFLICT TO THE PROVISION THAT LOTTERY MONEY WOULD NOT REPLACE MONEY ALREADY IN PLACE! Of course, it was for poor kids, and who cares about them anyway, when you can replace the money with money paid (volunarily) by poor people for predominately middle and wealthy students to get scholarships?

The truth comes out

August 24th, 2010
4:08 pm

“But it looks to me that we sent the same team so I wonder how important teacher buy-in was to this whole enterprise?”

Obviously not at all. And how often do these programs fail when the the people on the ground don’t believe in them?


August 24th, 2010
4:29 pm

Congratulations to the team that wrote, presented, and defended the proposal for the State of Georgia. It will be interesting to see how allocations are made.


August 24th, 2010
4:36 pm


August 24th, 2010
7:45 pm


“sonny purdue is a shameless hypocrite. Hate them on health care but love them on education. What tripe!”

I’m a Democratic supporter who dislikes Purdue, but I think that (now that he isn’t running for reelection, of course) he’s showing some integrity and backbone. It’s not “hypocritical” to evaluate the federal administration’s ideas and decide you agree with some and disagree with others. Politicians in the past quite often did this sort of thing, before it became compulsory, apparently, for them all to march lock-step in 100% opposition to any and every idea of the other party, just because they’re the other party. The current situation is ridiculous. The Obama administration’s education policies are quite similar to those of the preceding Bush administration. In fact, many Democrats aren’t very keen on RTTT et al. There’s no reason in the world that a thinking Republican couldn’t support RTTT while disagreeing with the administration’s policies on healthcare.

The key is thinking, something that’s apparently fallen out of fashion … and apparently you think it should stay that way.


August 24th, 2010
8:21 pm

I wonder if they would send my county enough to buy me a couple of ink cartridges for my printer?


August 24th, 2010
11:04 pm

so how are ALL teachers going to be evaluated? Will non core teachers be held to the same standard of teaching as an English, Science, Social studies or math teachers? This is a sad day for Georgia students…the promise of all that money and it sounds like more professional development and training for teachers. That will definitely NOT help our kids. Time to retire….


August 25th, 2010
9:32 am

Arne Duncan is the dumbest thing coming out of Obama’s Administration. Obama will hate he ever allowed such a monstrosity to be passed. I was an Obama supporter, but I will not vote for him for a 2nd term.


August 25th, 2010
9:34 am

Just follow the money – let’s see how much ends up at Curriculum Advantage……