Race to the Top news: Fulton, Haralson, Morgan and Rockdale are finalists for millions in district grants

The US DOE is busy making news today, including the announcement that the Fulton County Board of Education, Haralson County School System, Morgan County Charter School System and Rockdale County Public Schools are among 61 applications selected as finalists in the Race to the Top-District competition.

Georgia is already a state Race to the Top winner in the state contest, but these systems submitted applications for a pool of money targeting smaller-scale reforms.

In explaining this district-level contest, US DOE says: The Race to the Top District competition will build on the lessons learned from the State-level competitions and support bold, locally directed improvements in teaching and learning that will directly improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness. More specifically, Race to the Top District will reward those LEAs that have the leadership and vision to implement the strategies, structures and systems of support to move beyond one-size–fits-all models of schooling, which have struggled to produce excellence and equity for all children, to personalized, student-focused approaches to teaching and learning that will use collaborative, data-based strategies and 21st century tools to deliver instruction and supports tailored to the needs and goals of each student, with the goal of enabling all students to graduate college- and career-ready.

If they win, the Georgia districts would receive millions of dollars for specific reforms.

According to US DOE:

The 2012 RTT-D program will provide close to $400 million to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student for success in college and careers.

The 61 finalists, representing more than 200 school districts, were selected from 372 applications the Department received in November to demonstrate how districts could personalize education for students and provide school leaders and teachers with key tools that support them to meet students’ needs.

“These finalists are setting the curve for the rest of the country with innovative plans to drive education reform in the classroom,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “This competition was designed to support local efforts to close the achievement gap and transform the learning environment in a diverse set of districts, but no matter who wins, children across the country will benefit from the clear vision and track records of success demonstrated by these finalists.”

Race to the Top-District applications were randomly assigned to three-person panels that independently read and scored each application, with independent reviewers’ scores averaged to determine an applicant’s score. The Department arranged the applications in rank order from high to low scores, and determined which were the strongest competitors to invite back based on “natural breaks” – i.e. scoring gaps in the lineup. The top 61 applications were then selected as finalists.

Consistent with the Department’s plan to select high-quality proposals from applications across a variety of districts, the finalists represent a range of districts, both rural and non-rural, from both Race to the Top states and non-Race to the Top states.

The Department expects to select 15-25 winning applications from the Race to the Top-District competition for four-year awards that will range from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the population of students served through the plan. Awards will be announced no later than Dec. 31, 2012.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

24 comments Add your comment

Trying to flee the sinking ship (known as DeKalb)

November 26th, 2012
6:32 pm

No Administrator left behind…and poor.

Maureen, you need to watch where this money goes. If it goes to the eduCRATS, then the Obama admin is just as guilty as the Bush one when it comes to education.

More government regulation of education. Oh joy. Homeschooling looks to be the last bastion of educational freedom in this country.


November 26th, 2012
8:24 pm

Private Citizen

November 26th, 2012
8:36 pm

Why so much “promotional language” used? Why call a state a “winner” when they accept money like a bribe to do something. The whole proxy of it is very bizarre. No one in the work places like promotional language used for operations. It’s like it’s not sober or something, does not lead to a sober workplace environment. They’re framing governance as “competing for funds” and then making hoopla over the “winners.” The whole thing is bizarre and unprecedented in governance.


November 26th, 2012
8:44 pm

My understanding from teachers in Rockdale is that homework cannot count for more than 10%, even at the high school level, regardless of level of class, – college preparatory, honors or AP.
Further, high school teachers were told that there were no firm due dates for work – in other words, students can hand in assignments the last day of the semester for teachers to grade.
I am not sure this is reform with rigor.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

November 26th, 2012
8:59 pm

I listened to Patrick Burke say that Fulton plans to use that ESPLOST money to top Forsyth’s model for technology use in the classroom. That would mean going to the full-fledged tool use to promote social interaction and engagement as the purpose of school.

That’s vocational. Taking down the suburban school districts has been a long time goal of school desegregation. So are intradistrict transfers. Which Maureen you probably guessed was what I was getting at with my North Atlanta questions that went unanswered on the other thread. Atlanta has always been a top priority to breach those district boundaries.

Between Fulton’s stupid Strategic Plan that suggests the Cleveland Avenue gang is either cognitively challenged or thinks North Fulton can neither read or think and this RTT app to impose some of the most controversial ideas in education and that duplicitous charter, Mark Elgart must be so proud of Avossa.

Oh, well. You keep pushing cutting edge and I’ll keep interpreting it and describing the actual implications economically. We can all pretend it has nothing to do with that “Breakthrough Capitalism” Conference in London last May.

Charlotte-Meck never understood what was happening to it. Fulton will. And in real time.

Private Citizen

November 26th, 2012
10:01 pm

If anyone has time for a quick read of opinion from New York perspective on RTTT, and check out the comments. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/education/in-obamas-race-to-the-top-work-and-expense-lie-with-states.html

Private Citizen

November 26th, 2012
10:19 pm

No longer can I, bathed in your languor, o waves,
Follow in the wake of the cotton boats,
Nor cross through the pride of flags and flames,
Nor swim under the terrible eyes of prison ships.

Another comment

November 26th, 2012
10:35 pm

Attentive Parent do you think that people are getting sick of your Raciest babbling. You are an idiot who doesn’t have a clue, about what you are talking about. There can be no line jumping to the North Fulton Schools if they are full with the students who live in the district. Some of us even turn in white folks who have bought in a certain high rise condo on Hammond Drive that only has studio’s and 500 sf one bedrooms and claim their family of 6 live there.

Private Citizen

November 26th, 2012
10:48 pm

:-) Racist refers to the practice of racism. Raciest means to be more racy, as in “Having a distinctive and characteristic quality or taste; Strong and sharp in flavor or odor; piquant or pungent; Risqué; ribald; Vigorous; lively.”

Private Citizen

November 26th, 2012
11:16 pm

I told it wrong. Correction: through the fog / mist “Raciest” is the superlative form of the adjective “racy” (fast / exciting), meaning to be the most racy, as opposed to the comparative form, “racier,” meaning to be more racy than….

“Monique is racier than Gertrude, however Gerald is the raciest of them all.”


November 27th, 2012
6:39 am

Cut to the chase: Take a picture of all the schoolkids and put a for sale sign on it.


November 27th, 2012
7:44 am

good one catlady

Pride and Joy

November 27th, 2012
7:52 am

Please please, Get Schooled, follow this money. Tell us how it is actually spent and on what, specifically.
I predict:
More “consultants” will be hired in Fulton County and they will be related (friends or family) to those educRats already in power in the Fulton County education bureaucracy and/or gizmos and gadgets will be purchased and they will not be used to do anything useful.
I also predict no real improvements will be made in education.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

November 27th, 2012
8:15 am

Wrong direction Another Comment. The transfers would be from North Fulton to relieve that overcrowding after letting it build up deliberately despite the talking points used to sell the ESPLOST.

Making an unsupported ad hominem attack against me like that just calls attention to you discomfort that I got ahead of this story and already know what is planned. Burke got very flustered that I already knew about the Amplify contract even though “it had not yest gone to RFP.” No one in North Fulton wants a bunch of education degree holders living at Taxpayer Expense telling them their children need “New Kinds of Minds” as Joel Klein unwisely stated in his presentation to a Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

When I first read Fulton’s charter, I recognized that it contractually created what was called Transformational Outcomes Based Education in the 90s. Not hugely surprising since one of the co-creators, Spence Rogers, is doing professional development in Fulton with his Orwellianly-nemed “teaching for Excellence” template.

When I went back to review a 1989 UNESCO document to write this story http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/values-and-vocational-creating-citizen-drones-via-education-worldwide/, I realized why Fulton’s charter fit Transformational OBE so well. Spady and Rogers appear to have created their OBE ladder to get to the vision for transformative education laid out in that 1989 document.

Bingo. And now the feds want to help fund that transition to Ehrlich’s Newmindedness and the elimination of the Axemaker Mind.

I think that kind of pernicious agenda can truly unite North and South Fulton that Cleveland Avenue has declared war on their children’s futures. And our country’s. Which they would recognize if those Education doctorates reflected actual knowledge instead of a willingness to impose political theories with a tragic history attached.


November 27th, 2012
8:25 am

Attentive parent, I too am attentive and watch FCS. Your perspective is baffling. I am one of those left-leaning liberal types, rare in Georgia it seems, who would be happy if the system was focusing a bit more on social interaction and school engagement. I don’t see it. I see a big focus on fact after fact on which the kids will be given test after test so that they may regurgitate things they could look up on google in seconds. The way you have connected the dots you see is very unusual.

Private Citizen

November 27th, 2012
9:05 am

Going along with these various initiatives is like entering the quaalude zone. It’s like they’ve figured out how to put Xanax and Quaaludes in a blender and then use it to make policy.

No thank you

November 27th, 2012
10:42 am

I am glad that Cobb County did not win!


November 27th, 2012
11:30 am

I work in Clayton County. The Race to the Top money is not benefitting teachers or students. It has only benefitted the people for whom useless positions were created. No reform, no improvement academically. Clayton County is beyond hopeless.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

November 27th, 2012
11:57 am

GoodforKids-Avossa eyed that IB Programs at Ridgeview and Riverwood to be a stalking horse for where he wanted to take Fulton. Lots of the terms used have a non-dictionary counterintuitive meaning I am familiar with so when a super or a principal uses them it means something different to me. Which is why I will ask a follow up question to figure out which way it is being used. Other high schools, lucky them, may still actually be allowing fine teachers to cover content, not just designated, politically useful concepts.

I have this joke about being Miss Marple tiptoeing through the footnotes but literally that is how I research. If it functions the same it is worth looking into past results. If x is cited as the authority for y policy, I will read x.

In fact that’s what I am doing at the moment. Not involving Fulton, national and international. I just recognize when Fulton is pushing these ideas. Anyway, what I am researching the premises for the policies being advocated for are wrong. Factually wrong. So pushing the policies will be disastrous. Next step is explaining why.

For example Avossa brought in Cambridge Education at great expense to shut down the transmission of knowledge. The IB schools unfortunately with their new principals are most comfortable with that scenario because it feeds into IB’s current affective focus internationally. Please do not argue from past history I have IB’s own documents declaring their intentions. Cambridge Ed is bad for Fulton taxpayers and students but good for my arsenal of info because they are a subsidiary of Mott MacDonald, the World Bank and UN’s favorite contractor. What Cambridge is pushing is consistent with what those institution’s want. Which is why MM acquired Cambridge.

Cambridge also highlighted Michael Barber, who was already on my radar screen from hiring Kathy Cox. That pulls in Barber’s aggressive work on Education for All on behalf of UNESCO. It also put a klieg light on the Data Quality Campaign and how that fits in.

Personally I wish Fulton were not pushing this tragic template. I didn’t say social engagement and interaction on top of academics. This is Dewey’s Social Reconstruction vision. Professionally, Fulton being cutting edge with Avossa has provided a treasure trove of info.

We all cope with reality as best we can.

Private Citizen

November 27th, 2012
2:58 pm

Collar, if IB is emphasizing “affective,” in comparison to Outcomes Based Education doctrine, IB is “OBE Affective Version Lite.” IB still maintains structured and sequential content knowledge. Consider that. For IB, the “affective” is a warm fuzzy blanket surrounding the core, which is content.

Teach Em Wright

November 28th, 2012
2:30 pm

If Rockdale County adopted Exeditionary Learning at the County Level, this would be GREAT!!! Every parent should want Expeditionary Learning for ALL students. Parents, use your voice and demand this now. Kids are “falling in love with school again” through Expeditionary Learning!!! Check out http://elschools.org/our-approach


November 30th, 2012
7:12 am

Attentive Parent, I have a hard time believing Avossa and crew are smart enough to consider or even understand what you claim they are doing. I do see your statements in action in our schools, but these people seem so dumb. Part of the plan?

[...] While four Georgia districts were finalists in a new Race to the Top grant competition, none of them won. [...]

Marcia Pounds Malone

December 13th, 2012
5:37 pm