Policy Brief

Georgia in Doghouse on Race to Top

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Just as the U.S. Department of Education was letting Hawaii out of the Race to the Top doghouse, federal officials put Georgia in.

Federal officials announced last week they are planning to withhold $9.9 million from Georgia after it backed out of a promise to institute merit pay in order to win a $400 million Race to the Top grant in 2010.

“This is about Georgia making commitments ... and now saying it will not move forward with those commitments,” said a senior Education Department official in a press call last week.

The nearly $10 million that Georgia is poised to lose sometime this month won’t disappear, but it will be set aside in case state officials have a change of heart. Any unused money, from Georgia or any other state, reverts to the U.S. Treasury on Oct. 1, 2015.

“We listened to our educators in districts across the state who told us that we needed another year to work on the implementation of performance measures for high-stakes personnel decisions in subjects where we do not have a standardized test,” said Georgia school’s chief John Barge.

More than a year ago, federal officials put $33 million of the state’s $400 million grant on “high risk” status after growing concerned about the strategy behind the teacher-evaluation component of the grant.

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The day before taking steps to withhold some of Georgia’s grant money, the Education Department rewarded Hawaii for big improvements in its work by removing it from high-risk status. This black mark—and the threat of losing grant money—came after a prolonged labor squabble delayed a teachers’ contract, and key Race to the Top programs, for months. After a contract was reached earlier this year, Hawaii’s implementation sped up— sparking last week’s decision to put Hawaii back in good standing.

“This is great news that validates the good work that’s been done by the teachers, educational leaders, and our community partners,” said state Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The transformation of our public schools is in full swing.”

Vol. 32, Issue 37, Page 27

Published in Print: August 7, 2013, as Ga. in Doghouse Over Race to Top
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