Race over? Federal aid to schools may dry up

 New Georgia school chief John Barge does not like federal aid, which is probably a good thing since we can expect less in the future.

New Georgia school chief John Barge does not like federal aid, which is probably a good thing since we can expect less in the future.

U.S.  Education Secretary Arne Duncan can’t manage 100,000 schools from Washington. Newly elected state school Superintendent John Barge can’t manage 1,800 schools from Atlanta.

Yet, both men are charged with the task of improving schools that have been resistant and, at times, hostile, to change.

Both profess to believe that poor children and children of color are capable of academic excellence. Duncan witnessed it firsthand through an after-school enrichment program than his mother launched in south Chicago in 1961 and still runs today.

Barge lived it, describing growing up poor with an alcoholic father and few supports; he discovered for himself early on that education could change his life.

How well Duncan and Barge will work together remains to be seen. Barge supports less federal involvement, even calling for an end to Georgia taking federal money because of the strings that come with it.

But he is bonded to Duncan by a strong adhesive; a $400 million Race to the Top grant won largely by the efforts of fellow Republican, Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Half the grant will flow directly to the 26 Georgia school districts that agreed to be part of the application; half will be used statewide.

That federal largesse may be the last Georgia or any other state sees for awhile.

At an Education Trust conference  in Washington last week, a senior aid to the influential Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, told reporters that the election of a Republican majority in the House portends a new austerity.

“Money is really short, money is really tight; States and districts need to use their money a lot more efficiently, a lot more creatively,” said Alexander aide David Cleary.

While Carmel Martin, US DOE assistant secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development,  told reporters at the same conference that the White House would like a second round of Race to the Top grants, Cleary raised doubts about whether Congress would approve additional funds in view of the public demand for less government and less spending.

Given the new realities in Washington, Georgia may be among the first and only recipients of a grant. Georgia was one of 12 states that won the grants this year in a highly competitive process.

Martin was asked whether she felt another pot of federal dollars, the $10 billion Education Jobs Funds designed to save teacher jobs, was misspent. In many districts across the country, including some in Georgia, the money was used for teacher raises rather than for saving jobs. Georgia school districts received $322.3 million.

Why, Martin was asked, didn’t the federal government limit the funds to saving jobs?

The reason was political, she said. Not all states had teacher layoffs, but Congress wanted all states to have access to the funds. To placate them, the Obama White House did not limit the funds to job recovery. The money was allowed to be spent on jobs and personnel, thus allowing districts greater latitude to apply it to teacher raises and benefits.

I am adding a comment here from a teacher/poster about the AJC’s use of the word “raise” in its new stories as I think it is important to keep in mind that these “raises” don’t offset other cuts many teachers have experienced in some districts:

I am making about $24,000 less this year than I was scheduled to make due to furlough days, step increases that got absorbed by the district, and TSA payments that vanished…..

….and you call the $1,025 check I will get from the Education Jobs Stimulus a “bonus” and a “raise?”

74 comments Add your comment

SDK

November 11th, 2010
9:02 am

“Not all states had teacher layoffs, but Congress wanted all states to have access to the funds.”

A part of the government spending is the false belief that we have to spend the money everywhere equally. This belief cost money because not only money was sent to places where it wasn’t needed as much AND it was spent inappropriately (for unintended purposes).

One “good” thing about the Race to the Top grant process was that the Federal DOE made states prove they indeed needed and had a plan to spend the money for spcific purposes. Whether or not the actual plan or the goals were good is a different question.

Dr. Tim

November 11th, 2010
9:09 am

It says way too much about our government to say that now that the election is over, schools can be safely forgotten once again. School rooms are no loner taught by spinsters contect to make whatever the system willl pay; parochial schools no longer have the benefit of free Nuns or Brothers to teach classes. Education is expensive, either public or private. I’d like to remind legislators in Georgia and in Washington that there is no “free lunch.” If you want an educated electorate (and if you listen to some of them, I’m not sure they actually do) you’re going to have to open the public purse. And keep it open.

Pluto

November 11th, 2010
9:22 am

How much of the available resources for education are consumed in the “administration” of the myriad programs? Do we really need bureaucracts deciding which district is worthy of resources? The funds need to go directly to locally controlled entities and those responsible for its administration need to be held accountable. The system as it now stands is broken and needs a major overhaul. By the way I didn’t get a raise or bonus but did get extra classes to teach with more students and got a huge raise in my contribution to hard earned benefits to cover those 26 year old “children” with medical insurance. Thanks

Vince

November 11th, 2010
9:26 am

Let me get this straight AJC…..

I am making about 24,000 dollars less this year than I was scheduled to make due to furlough days, step increases that got absorbed by the district, and TSA payments that vanished…..

….and you call the $1025 check I will get from the Education Jobs Stimulus a “bonus” and a “raise?”

Geez…….

Maureen Downey

November 11th, 2010
9:38 am

@Vince, Good point. I added your comment to the entry for balance. Maureen

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by i RISE, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Race over? Federal aid to schools may dry up http://bit.ly/c0z1SH [...]

South Ga Teacher180

November 11th, 2010
9:40 am

I think Dr. Barge knows that the fight is going to come between the Gov. Office of Student Achievement and the state DOE on what to do with that 200 million. I agree with Pluto, there is too much faith in elected officials to manage the resources need for local systems. One thing I hope Barge does is push back against the Gov. Office of Student Achievement because we do not need both political offices controlling the purse strings.

I have a question ( and someone who knows please answer it): Under Race to Top, What will be the role of the school districts that actually did their job under the GPS’s and made AYP?

I know my system did not get the awarded grants because we did our job under state mandates, but what will be our role now that Barge has to figure out what to do with the $200 million?

catlady

November 11th, 2010
10:04 am

We “got back” 2 of the 12 furlough days we had been slated for. However, that leaves $4000 plus that is NOT recovered.

Dr NO

November 11th, 2010
10:47 am

Taking any cash from Obama, The Feds/Cronies is playing with fire. All Federal funding of State schools should cease. Excess dollars do not make a school competitive. These excess dollars should be saved, stashed away for a rainy day, like now. The US has a vertible smorgasbord of financial issues and these wasted dollars should go back into the pot to lower the defecit.

irisheyes

November 11th, 2010
10:54 am

No raise (or offset of furlough money) here in GCPS. I guess they used it to “save” jobs. I bet those 150 teacher who were non-renewed due to “performance issues” would have liked to know what jobs were actually saved.

Hall County Teacher

November 11th, 2010
10:56 am

We got 1 of our 8 furlong days back, hired a few new Coordinators at Central Office and are paying for AP exams for our students. Selected schools are also getting new lap tops for all teachers somehow. New teachers in the classrooms? None I have heard of.

South Ga Teacher180

November 11th, 2010
11:09 am

we got 1 of 6 back

What's best for kids?

November 11th, 2010
11:36 am

Yet the people in the central offices get no furloughs and keep all of their 240 day contracts. Huh.
Get rid of federal money and you can get rid of many of the central office positions.

Alex

November 11th, 2010
11:38 am

@ Vince – Be thankful buddy, you still have a job! Stop whining!

teacher&mom

November 11th, 2010
11:40 am

No raise and no furlough (7) days back. Did ever district get money to save teacher jobs or only the districts that signed on to RttT?

GA has relied heavily on the federal funds to support our schools. When a state the size of GA receives funds that rival NY, California and Texas, you’re headed for trouble. Instead of seeking better and stronger sources of funding within the state, GA has sought more and more federal funds. If the federal funds dry up, GA students and teachers will suffer.

teacher&mom

November 11th, 2010
11:47 am

We did get a new coach and added a couple of teachers who happen to have relatives in the district office….I suspect the 7 furlough days and the federal stimulus money is helping to pay for their salary :p

Vince

November 11th, 2010
12:01 pm

@Alex
I guess you missed my entire point. The AJC reported that the Economic Jobs Stimulus money was used to give us raises and bonuses.

My point was that the money provided to us from the funds is a small fraction of what was taken away and probably should not be reported as a “bonus.”

My issue was one of journalistic integrity…..not my lot in life.

Jan

November 11th, 2010
12:11 pm

I’m thrilled Race To The Top and the strings that go with it, national standard/federalize public education, may be dead before it gets out of the gate!! The $400 million won by the first grant averages to about $50 per student. The push to federalize education and guage performance against ‘international’ benchmarks means having US schools dictated to by the UN and subjected to the values of special interest groups. The notion of a UN-inspired U. S. public school curriculum is not such a far fetched one. The International Baccalaureate program is one such widely accepted course of study in American schools. The plan is to organize states into consortia that are guided by larger (fed. or foreign) consortia. (Read the documents found at the websites of the Federal Register, Dept. of Ed. and Obama’s Blue Print for American at the WH site) Obama has stated he wants CRADEL of Grave control of kids. Local school boards would no longer be needed. Who would a parent complain to? a bureaucrat in Washington? Education not only directly effects children, but the quality of that education does effect our communities. I believe Georgians can do a better job at deciding our fate than the federal government or the UN.

What's best for kids?

November 11th, 2010
12:17 pm

@Teachermom
12% is not that much. We can shave off 12% by eliminating ridiculous positions such as: instructional coach, Assistant to the curriculum director, curriculum supervisor, graduation coach, etc.

DeKalb mom

November 11th, 2010
12:27 pm

Vince, how in the world did you calculate that you lost $24,000? That is more than many GA workers total yearly income and they work all 12 months of the year. You must make an awful lot per day to lose $24,000 in one year.

Vince

November 11th, 2010
12:43 pm

@ Dekalb Mom…..

3 years of not getting my annual step increase…as scheduled. That alone subtracts $10,600 from where my salary was scheduled to be this year.

Fiften furlough days roughly equates to $6,250.

The TSA contribution that was taken away is $7200.

We won’t even talk about the cost of living increase the state passed a couple of years ago that the county took away.

But again, I wasn’t “whining” about my salary. I was making a point that the AJC suggested we were getting a “bonus” by giving a small amount of money back to us.

Thanks for asking.

Vince

November 11th, 2010
12:44 pm

@ Dekalb Mom….

Oh, I work 12 months too.

irisheyes

November 11th, 2010
12:51 pm

@Jan, before you continue to spout anymore conspiracy theory nonsense that you’ve been reading on right-wing blogs, you may want to make sure you are copying their rants correctly. It’s CRADLE. Thanks!

not another one...

November 11th, 2010
12:53 pm

I think the money came to GA too late to “save” any position since the school year was already under way. But, it is an example of the Federal Government spending money for the pruposes that weren’t intended because not giving money to GA would created a lot of people complaing.

the pro

November 11th, 2010
1:00 pm

Uhhh…Vince, based on your figures above, if you are a teacher of any kind other than a University faculty member, you were making way too much money to begin with.

Proud Black Man

November 11th, 2010
1:27 pm

@ the pro

How so? You tea (insert the name that cannot be mentioned) are so hypocritical its a shame. Yall b!tching and moaning about Obama being a Marxist and about health care being “socialized” medicine, but yet you come on here and in all your infinite wisdom state that a teacher is “making way too much money.”
Education costs money regardless which party is in office. Don’t you a-holes get it???

Concerned Henry Co. Parent

November 11th, 2010
1:48 pm

From the Henry Co. Schools website: The propsed budget for the $5 million RTT grant that Henry Co. Schools will receive over 4 years is as follows: $3,868,641 will go towards salaries & benefits for one RTT Administrator, 10 Class Keys support staff, 1 RTT Specialist, and 2 Admn. Asst.’s. $125,897 will go towards such things as copier fees, travel costs, supplies, etc. That leaves $996,205 in the category “pay for performance set aside.”

Thanks Michael Surma and the Henry Co. BOE. You should be very proud of the deal you made. The next thing I hear we have to look forward to is Standards Based Report Cards for math at the high school level. Can’t wait!

South Ga Teacher180

November 11th, 2010
2:07 pm

Anyone have an answer as to what the role will be for those school systems who did not fail and did their job under the GPS’s will be affected by this $200 million that has be be spent by Barge et al?

AlreadySheared

November 11th, 2010
2:16 pm

“I am making about $24,000 less this year than I was scheduled to make due to furlough days, step increases that got absorbed by the district, and TSA payments that vanished….”

$24,000? Really!? From furlough days, absorbed step increases, and TSA payments?!?

I believe $2,400 less, but 24 THOUSAND less looks like a typo to me.

Vince

November 11th, 2010
2:20 pm

@ the pro…

Never said I was a teacher. I also said I worked 12 months. You can probably figure our my position.

Also, are you insinuating it’s okay for a university professor to make that kind of money, but not other teachers? Why? They have the easiest job of teachers at any level.

Vince

November 11th, 2010
2:22 pm

@ Already Sheared….

It is shocking, isn’t it?

I decided a long time ago that the general public had no idea how much public school employees have been asked to sacrifice the last couple of years.

No typo. Read my 12:43 post for the explanation.

another comment

November 11th, 2010
2:23 pm

The biggest problem in Georgia is the Teacher Salaries are low when you consider that you must have a Bachlors degree and most teachers end up with a Masters degree by the end of their Career. I would never encourage my girls to go to college for 4 years where the starting pay is the low $30’s and the Maximum pay might be $60-80 K with 30 years of experience. Then to boot, people get on boards like this and B and complain that you are over paid or just a part time employee.

What has happened is the salaries are too low, for the required education and then the requirements that you have to an education degree dilutes the pool. So you end up with those that Can’t or the impression that those that can’t. Yes, you have alot of teachers who really want to teach and who are dedicated. But first get rid of these whole Education Schools. Let someone who has a Math Degree or and Engineering degree be a High School or Middle School Math teacher. It also opens up a bigger and better pool. I have to be in the Top 5-10% of my class to get in GA Tech’s Engineering School. I have to have over 1,250 more like 1,350-1,400 to even have a shot at being accepted to Ga Tech or another top 10 Engineering School. A student would also have had to take Honors, AP, or IB classes and be a strait A, to be considered, maybe 3.8 to GA Tech. Then If you get into Ga Tech or another Top 10 Engineering School Engineering 101 is the Big weed out Class, their is no remedial Math or English at these top 10 Engineering schools. On the other hand to get a Education Degree in Georgia you can go Albany State, West Georgia, Ga. Peremeter, Ga. Southern, all Schools that have something like not even 50% of their students graduate in 6 years. They have now dropped the SAT requirement for entrance. They offer numerous Remedial Classes. Yet is you continue to pay the tuition long enough at these schools they may finally give you a degree in Education.

Who do I want teaching my Child Math, someone that completed a rigurous Engineering program or received a Math degree from Ga. Tech, but they lack a Education Degree. or Someone Who went to Albany State, West Georgia, etc. took 6-8 years to get a General Education Degree, probably in PE and Special Education, but they are Short Math teachers, so they stuck them in Math 1, or 2 or Math 3, this person has no clue. Or the person has an Elementary Education Degree, and is teaching 5th grade and at the Open house, announces that Math is really not my thing, I don’t like Math ( not just parents were there but so were kids, great). I can always tell these Education degree holders didn’t quite get enough remediation courses, when they still don’t get it that the work ask is not pronounced ” ax”. How can you teach English if you can not pronounce it, these are teachers that were born in Georgia. The Ghetto, Southeren accent must be removed from the teachers accent. Proper English should be taught in our schools, not Ebonic’s or even a Southern Dialect, nor should a Brooklyn Dialect.

Of Course someone who completed the course work for a Bachlors in Engineering from Georgia Tech or equivalent school would expect even today a starting salary of $55,000 minimum. With average Engineers making $80-90K and Managers making six figures, and no-one would be saying that they are over paid.

We need to get real and pay teachers like Engineers. We also need to get rid of the Education Schools monopoly. We need to raise the bar on what is required of teachers, improve the quality by raising the pay, these are our children, we only get one shot at them.

We also must hold parents accountable. We need to stop this underclass. We need to get rid of the Free lunch mentality. Parents must be required to volunteer in thier schools, if they can’t volunteer, then they can send in a financial donation. The same people who get free lunches, have fake nails that cost $40 and $25 bi-weekly to maintain. Hair weaves, and other $300 hair does. Drive expensive cars in the Baby Daddy’s name from the pay weekly lot. Carry Designer Purses, kids wear $300 Nike’s. Then they get on the news and say there kid is innocent for stomping some kid to death. It has to stop.

APS Teacher

November 11th, 2010
2:39 pm

@ another comment-

Only proper nouns and/or the first word in a sentence should be capitalized. Just an FYI.

AlreadySheared

November 11th, 2010
2:48 pm

Your step increase goes up @10,000 in 3 years? I have not seen a salary schedule with such large increases for 3 additional years of service..

What's best for kids?

November 11th, 2010
3:03 pm

@Concerned Henry Co. Parent,
I warned over and over that this would happen. No money to kids or classrooms, lots of money to administrative positions. We should NOT have accepted this money. Write your legislators, write the State DOE, and write Cox and Perdue. Ridiculous!!!!!!

What's best for kids?

November 11th, 2010
3:06 pm

Seriously, another comment, what’s up the with caps in random places?

Vince

November 11th, 2010
3:06 pm

Well…a step increase is roughly 3% of your pay each year. If your salary is (was) about 109,000…so 3, 270 X 3 = 9810.

Do you think you can forgive me for having an estimate that was $190 off? Of course, had I gotten the increase each year the amount by which I figured the percentage would have been higher…so I could be a little low or a little high.

What's best for kids?

November 11th, 2010
3:07 pm

Damn, Vince,
What county are you in???? I wanna move there!

APS Teacher

November 11th, 2010
3:09 pm

If Vince makes $109,00, he is likely a principal with an EdS or PhD and a few decades of experience. And I wouldn’t be a principal for a million bucks. (Although you’d think the millions we spend on principals in APS would afford us some better ones.)

Ernest

November 11th, 2010
3:41 pm

Vince, I don’t mean this as ‘income envy’ but does your contract guarantee a step increase every year, even if the revenues are not there to provide it? In private industry, when profitability remains flat, salaries usually do the same (unless there are layoffs).

Your salary is paid from tax revenues, many which have declined over the previous 2-3 years. The alternative to providing your annual step increase is to increase taxes. I’m not sure many citizens would agree to that given the current economic climate.

Al

November 11th, 2010
4:03 pm

Was there a decision to stay with the one diploma track or move to two diplomas for Georgia at the state board of education yesterday?

Mac

November 11th, 2010
4:12 pm

@Ernest

I guess it is a matter of priorities – do you place your child’s safety and education higher than private industry widgets or a few extra dollars? The majority of Georgians seemingly don’t. You pay less you get less. quality vs quantity and all that jazz.

IMHO the people who educate and take care of my kids all day rate way above anyone in ‘private industry’. Your mileage may vary.

Realist

November 11th, 2010
4:26 pm

An end to Federal money would be the greatest thing imaginable for schools. It would also mean an end to the bureaucratic mass of regulations, mandates, dictates, etc. that are costing school districts way more than the money that comes from the Feds and end up tying the hands of the local community which is far better suited to addressing individual school needs than faceless and clueless bureaucrats in DC.

JJ

November 11th, 2010
4:28 pm

My wife is a teacher, I thought step increases were every 3 years, not every year? (cobb)

Lisa B.

November 11th, 2010
4:47 pm

Step increases are every year for the first 8 years, then every other year til the 20th year. After 20 years, no step increases. For the last ten years of an educator’s career, there are no raises unless the Governor and Legislature vote to grant a raise during a particular year.

Lisa B.

November 11th, 2010
4:48 pm

Some school systems freeze the step increases. It is my understanding though, that the state still sends the funds for the step raises, even if the raises don’t make it to the teachers.

Lisa B.

November 11th, 2010
4:51 pm

If Vince works the hours of most administrators I know, his hourly rate of pay is severely diminished by a grueling schedule. I don’t know Vince, but he probably earns that paycheck and deserves more.

Ernest

November 11th, 2010
5:35 pm

@Mac, the question was more about the lost income. How can you lose something that was never promised? If their contract says the step increases are guaranteed, I believe Vince has a point. I don’t know hence the question.

School systems by law must present a balanced budget. When compensation makes up 85-90% of your budget and other costs are increasing while revenues are declining, it does not leave many choices for school boards regarding how to meet their legal obligation. It is unfortunate but a reality.

Grizz

November 11th, 2010
5:49 pm

From Dr. Tim:

” If you want an educated electorate (and if you listen to some of them, I’m not sure they actually do) you’re going to have to open the public purse. And keep it open.”

Dr. Tim hit the nail on the head. The last thing the power structure wants is an educated electorate because they have the nasty habit of asking tough questions, demanding answers, and have the ability to point out that the emperor is naked. It’s so much better to have the kids with their heads down, absorbing what their “betters” prescribe, and not asking embarassing questions. IMO, that’s the reason for NCLB – learn what you are taught; regurgitate it; pass with honors and for goodness sakes, do not EVER question authority.

bootney farnsworth

November 11th, 2010
6:10 pm

@ maureen

“Don’t you a-holes get it???”

and how, EXACTLY, does this add anything to the
discussion?
any discussion?