Four Georgia districts strike out today in Race to the Top

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

Fulton County Board of Education, Haralson County School System, Morgan County Charter School System and Rockdale County Public Schools were among 61 applications selected as finalists in the Race to the Top-District competition but were not among the 16 winners announced today.

According to the announcement from the U.S. DOE:

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that 16 applicants—representing 55 school districts across 11 states and D.C.—have won the 2012 Race to the Top-District competition. These districts will share nearly $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 to succeed in college and their careers.

“Districts have been hungry to drive reform at the local level, and now these winners can empower their school leaders to pursue innovative ideas where they have the greatest impact: in the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The Race to the Top-District grantees have shown tremendous leadership though developing plans that will transform the learning environment and enable students to receive a personalized, world-class education.”

The 2012 Race to the Top-District grantees will receive four-year awards that range from $10 million to $40 million, depending on the number of students served through the plan. The winning applicants were the top scorers among the 372 applications the Department received in November, which were evaluated and scored by independent peer reviewers. Grantees represent a diverse set of districts, including applicants from both states that received a Race to the Top state grant as well as those that have not received Race to the Top state funding. Among the winners is a rural-area consortium representing 24 rural districts, which comprise 44 percent of the total number of districts that will benefit from the 2012 competition.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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50 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

December 11th, 2012
5:29 pm

Why Fulton County will decidedly not be “best in class” anytime soon:

A new performance management system, currently being implemented by Fulton County Schools, is designed to take Fulton to a “best-in-class school district,” according to Ronnie Wade, the district’s chief human resources officer.

Speaking at the District 7 school board community meeting Tuesday at Spalding Drive Elementary, Wade said the school system has set goals to graduate 90 percent of seniors on time by 2017. Other objectives are to make sure 85 percent of seniors are competitive for admission to colleges in the University System of Georgia and 100 percent of seniors are career-ready when they graduate.

To accomplish these goals, the district has set forth a strategy for teachers that will hold them accountable, as well as praise those who consistently meet or exceed performance requirements.

What’s the first thing Fulton can think of? Let’s blame the teacher! Not one word about how to actually empower teachers to hold students accountable; just blame the teacher, after the system sets them up for failure.

Of course the Mouth Organ spouting this nonsense went suddenly mute when asked what would be done to hold home accountable even when they admitted the home is the majority influence. Once again proving they have earned their moniker as a charter member of The Four Horsemen of the Incompetence

Teacher

December 11th, 2012
5:52 pm

Ronnie Wade came to our school to present this new model and went on a rant about how all of the teachers in Fulton County are Pintos and he only wants Ferraris. We had no clue what he was talking about. Did he want us to be impractical and unable to maneuver speed bumps? Does he have a fetish for Italian accents? It was bizarre. He then went on to tell the faculty of my school that he was going to replace us with Nasa scientists. For some reason in his mind Nasa scientists = great teachers. He then started pretending that his laser pointer was a light saber and started swinging it around. This is the man that Avossa wants to be the face of the Talent Division for FCS? I only wish we had gotten it on video. It would have gone viral instantly.

Long Time Teacher

December 11th, 2012
5:59 pm

Education will not progress in Georgia until the home improves. Georgians need to value education.

Dis Gus Ting

December 11th, 2012
6:06 pm

Why is our government treating educational dollars like a god damned lottery?

indigo

December 11th, 2012
6:12 pm

“Georgia districts in a new race to the top”

An oxymoron if there ever was one.

Old timer

December 11th, 2012
6:12 pm

Lee

December 11th, 2012
7:13 pm

Wait for it, wait for it…

“…close achievement gaps…”

There it is. I knew the US Dept of Education wouldn’t disappoint.

Tell me, how many Billion$ (Trillion$ maybe?) have we spent since Brown vs Board to close the achievement gap? What’s the definition of insanity again – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

In this case, they don’t even expect different results. They’re just spending money…

How do you define that?

TeacherVeteran

December 11th, 2012
7:14 pm

As a teacher in a RT3 district, I can tell those districts to count their blessings. We’ve lost more than half our teachers due to the unreasonable, redundant, and unnecessary demands of RT3, and from the sound of it, the only folks who aren’t already actively looking for jobs for next year (in non-RT3 districts) are our administrators. The money has been nice, but the ridiculous amount of data collection and analysis (which has required triple the amount of testing for our students) has burned out both students and staff. My advice? If the federal government offers you money, run the other way!

dc

December 11th, 2012
7:16 pm

then let’s take all the money that we spend on public schools, and spend it on improving the families, and close the schools. Obviously it’s a waste to pour it into public schools, since all we seem to hear is that it’s the parents fault, and no one could teach these awful students.

So it’s time….close the schools, and refund all the school taxes.

d

December 11th, 2012
7:38 pm

Ditto to TeacherVeteran….. The workload in DeKalb has just gotten worse from RTTT. We sent $1.2 MILLION to Pearson to write benchmarks that kids aren’t taking seriously, we have seen class size increase despite the additional monies flowing into the district and additional furloughs and pay cuts. How exactly is RTTT improving education except adding more testing to children and taking away from learning? Since my EOCT was yesterday, I told my students that they are going out into a world and to remember what 12 years of NCLB and RTTT has done to their education and always remember that “student achievement” has nothing to do with actual learning, but always remember that that phrase is synonymous with only one thing: standardized test scores.

Pride and Joy

December 11th, 2012
8:00 pm

If a teacher is saying the following to ANY student, she should be fired “Since my EOCT was yesterday, I told my students that they are going out into a world and to remember what 12 years of NCLB and RTTT has done to their education and always remember that “student achievement” has nothing to do with actual learning, but always remember that that phrase is synonymous with only one thing: standardized test scores.”
I don’t give a rats azz if EOCT ws yesterday. You have no rigfht to fill my child’s head with your garbage!

Ed Johnson

December 11th, 2012
8:15 pm

Two words… Watch Kentucky.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

December 11th, 2012
9:24 pm

RTT was not designed to improve education in terms of knowledge. It was designed to change the students in terms of what they know (little) and especially what they value. Attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions on top of that. And especially feelings. Social and emotional learning to finetune the child’s is a big part too. Altogether we get the Whole Child emphasis of the common Core. If you don’t believe me, sign up for ASCD’s Monthly newsletter.

Beverly–in previous attempts to push this nonacademic change the child from the inside-out approach, teachers balked. So did many principals. All the evals you keep hearing about are to prevent noncompliance with what is actually a UNESCO template.

Plus AdvancED as the UN’s favorite Quality Assurance enforcer. Quality as in the John Dewey meaning of the word.

Avossa, like the Charlotte district he came from, intends to force compliance with the Danielson/Pianta/OBE template. Teachers seem to be finding it interesting it is also called Spiritually Engaged Pedagogy and Transformative Sustainable Learning.

It is tied into the idea that teaching should enable Social Justice. I read the plans and wish someone in charge understood economics. Feels like they are playing with nitro and hoping it can be used to avoid having to dig holes. Not how it works.

HS Teacher

December 11th, 2012
10:57 pm

Pride and joy take a chill pill, I think you missed d’s point. freakin helicopter parents.

Fled

December 12th, 2012
3:25 am

@Beverly: Stay on this and don’t let them get away with it without a little light being shed on what they are up to. I’ve been hearing some interesting things about a certain ambitious aspiring educrat from Northview who joined the Super’s Office. It would be worth your time to take a look and let us know what you find.

@Teacher: Oh, for a cell phone at the right time. Way to go, Ronnie: dispirit the teachers who haven’t left yet. The obvious point is that if one wants a Ferrari one must pay for a Ferrari—and also pay quite a bit to maintain it. But then again abstract and critical thinking skills are not really useful in school admin, are they? I suppose they must be busy piling through the huge pile of applications from NASA scientists looking for teaching jobs in their schools.

Get out if you can. Give up. Throw in the towel. Flee.

d

December 12th, 2012
6:05 am

@P&J – if you really want your kids to just regurgitate factoids and never have an independent thought, I feel sorry for them. My students have complained about the number of tests that they are having, not just in my class, but in every class. These students have come to me as seniors lacking the ability to think critically because all we have taught them to do is fill in bubble sheets for standardized tests. These young people are going out into the world to run society and we wonder why China is poised to replace the United States as the strongest nation in the world. Life is not the multiple choice test that we have been forced to prepare children for over the past decade.

Pride and Joy

December 12th, 2012
6:48 am

d, d, d,…did you even read my post?
I CLEARLY advocate learning history, including factoids, NOT JUST factoids.
You need to go back and read my post again, carefully, before you post.

Pride and Joy

December 12th, 2012
6:53 am

HS TEacher, I didn’t miss the point. Teachers are to TEACH my children; they are NOT to spend time telling my children how they feel about the politics of education.
I don’t care if the EOCT is done. The school year IS NOT done.
TEACH academics. That’s what you are paid to do.
Maureen is paid to talk and write about the education of politics, not you.
If I ever caught a teacher blathering on about this nonsense when they were supposed to be teaching, you bet I’d whip out my cell phone, film it, put it on you tube, sent it to everyone that mattered and I would put an effort to get that teacher OUT of the classroom.
NO teacher has the right to use my child’s time and my taxpayer dollars to blather on about politics and nonsense.
THis is why our children cannot read — they are forced to listen to garbage.

Can't keep saying the obvious

December 12th, 2012
7:20 am

I encourage any Fulton County teacher, parent, student, staff, etc. to turn on their cell phones and begin recording these meetings. After 14 years, I have seen and heard enough, FCS is a bust and will always work towards benefiting the head honchos while those in the classrooms deal with the realities of teaching.

Private Citizen

December 12th, 2012
7:31 am

The age of harassment. Why do people accept it / work in fear?

Private Citizen

December 12th, 2012
7:33 am

My heart goes out to my colleagues having to play Jenga with RTTT ritual.

Goodforkids

December 12th, 2012
7:46 am

FCS is headed toward RTTT agenda with or without funds… And annoying the heck out of teachers who don’t want to be compared to pintos or ferraris. But, those are just words. The real sticks and stones are the plans for “bonuses” instead of raises, standardized testing out the wazoo, including those student scores in teacher evaluation, and asking teachers to do more with less in a myriad of ways (class size and inadequately supported “inclusion” classes, to name a few).

catlady

December 12th, 2012
8:13 am

What a blessing for those systems!

Colonel Jack

December 12th, 2012
8:18 am

@Goodforkids…it’s not just Fulton County that’s headed toward the RTTT agenda. I’d wager that all (or almost all) of the state’s systems are going that way. The system I just left (rural, poor, southwest of Atlanta) has been on the RTTT treadmill for a few years now…always hoping to be one of the “chosen” and gearing everything toward that goal. A lot of teachers have balked at the whole idea of this foolishness…many of us either left on our own or were invited to go away…and the kids in that county will pay the price for all this garbage for the rest of their lives. It’s a crying shame.

And in all of this “school change” and “school improvement,” nobody has ever given me a straightforward and satisfactory answer to my oft-asked question:

What in the world was wrong with the way we educated students back before all this crap began?

Ron Wade. Ew.

December 12th, 2012
8:29 am

Ron Wade also visited our school and explained that we shouldn’t be “satisfied” with our current performance (even though we have the #2 SAT scores in the county, #4 in the state). He said that very few, if any of us, are “excellent” teachers, and that we should be “ashamed with ourselves” for accepting the satisfactory rating on our previous evaluations, among other things.

When a teacher had the audacity to question him on his “facts”, he told her that “she could leave” because she “clearly only cares about the money.”

Gotta love Fulton County Schools.

[...] None of the four Georgia districts that were finalists for federal Race to the Top funds were selected. (AJC) [...]

Teacher-Parent

December 12th, 2012
11:37 am

Here is another thing that these rule-makers overlook: the revolving door on schools because families move anywhere from 2 to 5 times in a single school year. You show me a student with no disabilities that can’t read in middle school and I will show you a student who has been to more than 10 schools since kindergarten. I have seen students withdrawn during the 1st week of school. I have seen students who withdrew and more than 2 months passed before there was a request for records from another school. In spite of this, who gets blamed when the child can’t perform even the most rudimentary, grade-level-appropriate tasks? The teacher – and in some cases the teacher who had that student for less than 3 weeks before s/he was evaluated on that student’s progress. Until there is EQUAL responsibility spread between the home/family and the school/teacher nothing will change no matter what carrots they offer or threats they proffer.

d

December 12th, 2012
11:39 am

@P&J – I don’t know why I am wasting my time replying to you, but I will call you out – you said one thing – I should be fired. You said nothing about learning history, factoids, critical thinking, etc. These students will be going off, for the most part, to institutions of higher learning where they will be required to think – not spout back factoids. This is a skill that they have not been taught in this era. This is why we are falling behind the South Koreas, Taiwans, Finlands, etc. of the world. Life is not about factoids. If a student can tell me what happened on July 14, 1789, fine…. If they cannot tell me why that date is significant, what the causes of what happened on that date, and what were the consequences, then that student will not be prepared to go out and compete in a global market.

As a side note, and to ease your mind, my class is working on academics for the next 7 days, including a unit test, a final exam, and two major projects. Don’t worry about what’s going on in my classroom. Worry about your children being robbed of a well-rounded education by the testing and accountability craze that we are going through. Worry that they won’t be able to “do” anything short of fill in a multiple choice test.

Dr. John Trotter

December 12th, 2012
11:40 am

I have always felt that Ron Wade was a joke in the Fulton County School System’s administration. We have had him on MACE’s NI List for a number of years. Mr. Robert Avossa needs to wake up and smell the coffee. With the kind of insulting remarks toward teachers which Ron Wade apparently made recently, Avossa’s tenure superintendent in Fulton County may be shorter than the national average of 2.9 years. He might have to take his recently-earned doctorate from little Wingate College back up to the hills of North Carolina. Ha!

http://www.theteachersadvocate.com

http://www.georgiateachersspeakout.com

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

December 12th, 2012
1:18 pm

@Ron Wade,ew-

I have never met Ron Wade but I do know Fulton county’s current definition of excellence is not the dictionary definition. It comes from Spence Rogers and his Teaching for Excellence model. That is itself largely grounded in cultivating and manipulating student feelings. Rogers and his PEAK Learning systems did professional development in Charlotte-Meck.

Rogers is also the co-developer of Transformational Outcomes Based education with Bill Spady. The book of Rogers I read last week had him listing Mao Tse Tung as a role model for leadership.

This would suggest that (a) Rogers is an ignoramus unaware he has just listed a mass murderer as a leadership figure. This would make him unsuited as a trainer of teachers. Especially at the listed $4000 a day a TV station in Texas investigating his training quoted.

or (b) Rogers is actually implementing the UNESCO definition of Excellence that goes back to the Cold War when both China and the USSR thought education would make a fine weapon against the West. This 2nd alternative should give parents pause as it is not professional development grounded in a free society.

And I say that as someone with hard copies of the documents backing up (b).

Good luck.

HS Public Teacher

December 12th, 2012
1:44 pm

Ron Wade also came to our school making horrible remarks about teachers. He made one teacher cry and another walked out during the meeting. No excuse.

Good teachers are leaving FCS – even the north fulton schools are seeing good teachers leave.

Private Citizen

December 12th, 2012
3:10 pm

Don’t worry about what’s going on in my classroom. Worry about your children being robbed of a well-rounded education by the testing and accountability craze that we are going through

Amen to that. ‘Tell it.

Private Citizen

December 12th, 2012
3:16 pm

When a teacher had the audacity to question him on his “facts”, he told her that “she could leave” because she “clearly only cares about the money.”

That’s also how Arne Duncan operates. If he encounters opposition he goes into nasty defense mode real quick and does the same type of scapegoat / reject thing and uses “you do not love the children” as his rational, like he is rapid firing a fact or something. He sort of bows up when he does it, and acts angry at someone questioning him.

Private Citizen

December 12th, 2012
3:17 pm

It’s the Bill O’Reilly school of management.

Beverly Fraud

December 12th, 2012
3:57 pm

Maureen, I think there is enough “juice” on this blog about Ron Wade to deserve a few pointed questions concerning his statements toward teachers.

If a teacher called a student “Pinto” as opposed to Ferrari, we’d be up in arms. Is it ok to demean teachers just because they are teachers?

Beverly Fraud

December 12th, 2012
4:00 pm

The sheer scope of the material Invisible Serf presents is…is…looking for the right word (scary? overwhelming? like a trip in the Matrix?)

But I’ll say this. I’ve yet to see anyone offer an effective rebuttal

Is there a place anywhere on Earth that is free of this???

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

December 12th, 2012
5:04 pm

Beverly-I have never seen anything troubling about what is going on in Antartica.

Do you think it’s the lack of children there?

Teacher

December 12th, 2012
5:25 pm

Maureen, I think Beverly Fraud has a point. I know that many of my colleagues and myself would love to hear Mr. Wade justify his demeaning remarks towards teachers in Fulton County.

Private Citizen

December 12th, 2012
6:07 pm

Arne Duncan wants schools to be open 14 hours a day and provide after school drama, art, sports, chess, debate, enrichment, GED, ESL, family literacy nights, pot luck dinners, health care clinics… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLQNFnUhWhw

somebody pinch me. I guess Arne never read any literature about “utopia.” Is there not an ethics issue concerning what he says and what he actually does? So he wants the schools to double as after-hours health care clinics for the illiterate peasants? That’s what he just said. So I guess you’re going to lay someone over a few desks and roll up the x-ray machine on an overhead projector cart? in the world of Arne Duncan. What exactly is his definition of a “clinic,” a place with spaghetti dinner and a thermometer? I but he doesn’t go to any “clinic.”

Private Citizen

December 12th, 2012
6:08 pm

Private Citizen

December 12th, 2012
6:23 pm

Charlie Rose has a way of getting powerful people to expose themselves. Rose puts them in a comfortable place and then they can talk their talk. Powerful people love to talk their talk about non-powerful people and all they things they could be doing. Water skiing! Macrame! Pottery! Do it like this. Skip your job at the Dollar Store and dinner from McDonald’s and take home box of PopTarts for breakfast. Come join the gilded. Root canal? Gap in the mouth. All the better for the cool breeze during water skiing. If you live long enough to save $1000. cash before you get a brain or heart infection from the gum.

Periapical abscesses account for 47 % of all dental-related attendances at paediatric emergency rooms in the United States http://jmm.sgmjournals.org/content/58/2/155.full

Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old died Sunday in a District hospital after an infection from a molar spread to his brain. At the time he fell ill, his family’s Medicaid coverage had lapsed. Even on the state plan, his mother said, the children lacked regular dental care and she had great difficulty finding a dentist. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/02/AR2007030200827.html

LD

December 12th, 2012
10:11 pm

The new teacher assessment tool is not a Fulton County creation, but a GA DoE mandate – a result of the state-wide RttT funds. You can find information about the teacher keys and leader keys here: http://archives.doe.k12.ga.us/tss_teacher.aspx

Why do all the discussions on improving education focus on the K-12 classrooms? Is no attention being put on how we are training teachers in the college classrooms? Personally, I am frustrated with teachers that are very dedicated and may be effective in instruction, but do not have the knowledge base to go beyond their textbooks! And when they try to go beyond the textbook, many times they impart misinformation or something that is completely wrong (especially in elementary & middle school science). Rather than just raising the expectations for teachers AFTER they are in a classroom, why not raise the requirements for certification?

seminole

December 12th, 2012
10:33 pm

I didn’t have the displeasure of hearing Mr. Wade speak, but I have heard from teachers at multiple schools about his presentations and insulting comments towards teachers. This happened at many schools, if not all that he visited. I also heard that several principals were very upset with the way he painted all of the teachers as incompetent (these are principals at very high performing schools). I wonder if Avossa is aware of Wade’s representation of the “talent” division?

I haven’t heard many teachers complain about the evaluation process itself; just Ron Wade’s insults.

Educator

December 13th, 2012
12:21 am

What i read about Fulton County and Avossa is not a surprise to me. This is very common to Superintendents from Broad Superintendents Academy. Same complaints all over the United States. See more of them here:

http://thebroadreport.blogspot.com/p/broad-superintendents-academy-graduates.html

I am expecting that the next thing Avossa will do is fire teachers and hire teachers from Teach for America. This is what Broad Superintendents do according to this blog.

Educator

December 13th, 2012
12:46 am

Or maybe no need to fire anyone. After such bad treatment from Ron Wade and others, quality teachers with dignity will leave anyway. There is no way that Avossa is not knowing what Ron Wade is doing IMHO.

Educator

December 13th, 2012
1:06 am

Private Citizen

December 13th, 2012
9:59 am

Educator, that’s a heavy link and a tough read, very real. Everyone should be informed of the information in your link.

fed up with it all

December 13th, 2012
4:12 pm

RTTT is a waste of money. Clayton County has used a great deal of the money to create “fluff positions ” while increasing class sizes. Sounds illogical. Seems as if more teachers would have been hired to reduce class sizes. That is the history of Clayton since the demographics have changed. Greek affiliations and personal friendship = promotion. Competency not a requirement to become a Clayton administrator or to receive a promotion. For the new graduates, Clayton will have hundreds of job openings.

Fled

December 13th, 2012
11:22 pm

@Beverly: Of course, there are many, many places where this craziness is not part of education. My children attend a school that is absolutely top-notch in every respect, and they are subject to no standardized testing at all. However, that is balanced by a rigorous curriculum and very high standards. If you don’t want to get with the program, you are welcome to leave.

I have some friends working in Kazakhstan, and they are doing some interesting things. Almaty is becoming a sort of Switzerland for Asia, with many high-quality schools popping up. Other friends are working in Singapore and Malaysia, which are also undertaking interesting reforms. And then there is China, where everybody wants to learn English. Think globally, and you will see the true sadness of what backwards, benighted places like Georgia are doing. That is why I encourage you to stay on the fools and idiots running education in Georgia.

@Invisible: We are on diametrically opposed sides of the political fence, but I respect what you are doing. You provide data to support your points, and I always look at what you offer. I had not heard of this sham educrat before, but as you say it is more mumbo jumbo instead of more education.

We both want the same thing: excellent education for all children so that they can think for themselves. You and I look at the same data and draw different conclusions, but that is the result of critical thinking, which we both wish more people could do. Keep on posting, as it is going to be hard to dismiss the points of one who is well-informed and knows the research. I will never agree with you, but I will take seriously what you say.

To all teachers: Keep on this Ronnie Wade character. All you need is a video of him verbally abusing teachers, and he will be in a tough position. He’s long been a bully and deserves the end that is, hopefully rapidly, rushing his way. As if that moron knows anything about excellence: LMFAO.

Heel

December 18th, 2012
3:35 pm

Please send the link(s) to those jobs for the benefit of my colleagues in Fulton County Schools:

“I have some friends working in Kazakhstan, and they are doing some interesting things. Almaty is becoming a sort of Switzerland for Asia, with many high-quality schools popping up. Other friends are working in Singapore and Malaysia, which are also undertaking interesting reforms. And then there is China, where everybody wants to learn English. Think globally, and you will see the true sadness of what backwards, benighted places like Georgia are doing. That is why I encourage you to stay on the fools and idiots running education in Georgia. “