Friday, August 27, 2010

Georgia granted $400 million in RTTT funds

So, it looks like we finally "won"!  Whoopee... I am still insulted that the government thinks schools should have to compete for funding.  Does the government make any other department jump through these kinds of hoops?  I'd like to hear about it, if so.

Anyways -- guys - here's the facts according to the AJC.

  • Georgia has been awarded $400 million to invest in education reforms at the state level and in five metro districts and 21 others, having landed a spot in the winner’s circle in President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top competition.
  • The metro Atlanta school districts that have signed on to pilot Georgia’s reforms include the city of Atlanta and Cherokee, Clayton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.
  • Perdue said the $400 million will be split between the state Department of Education and 26 local school districts that signed on as participants in Georgia’s Race to the Top application. State officials will be traveling to Washington to learn details, including when to expect the money.
  • The state will use its money for professional training, a statewide system for tracking student achievement and development of teacher evaluation systems, the governor said.
  • Local school systems will develop their own programs to improve standards and test scores, with success being measured through data collected from statewide, uniform tests, he said.
  • “We are going to use this $400 million to literally show what we can do in transforming education,” he said.
  • The governor’s office has said that Race to the Top money cannot be used to offset the millions of dollars’ worth of budget cuts to education in recent years. But Brad Bryant, the new state superintendent of schools, told reporters Tuesday that a school system might be able to bring back some teachers if its plans require more teachers or more days of instruction.
  • Gwinnett school officials will be concentrating on three initiatives they believe can most improve student achievement: teacher effectiveness, leader effectiveness and personnel evaluation, said School Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks.
  • Atlanta Public Schools will be exploring ways to restructure teacher rewards and compensation for its most effective teachers, said spokeswoman Morieka V. Johnson.

No word on how DeKalb plans to spend their share. Any guesses?


Anonymous said...

Augh! It sounds like this money is headed toward some new data warehouse that will store more meaningless data and managed by well-paid new employees who, surprise, have nothing to do with students.

Anonymous said...

This RTTT money didn't magically appear! Once again, tax money that's going to be pi**ed down the drain, lining undeserving pockets, falling into collection baskets, with little or no direct improvement in the basic education of our children.

Anonymous said...

They'll use some of the money to hire 3 more generations of Francis Edwards family!

Maybe they can use some of the money to hire a real MIS staff, so they can mine all the data that Beasley is wanting from our teachers!

Buy enough books for every student?

Who am I kidding, they'll use it to pay off the lawyers defending Clew-less!

The real sad thing is there are huge strings attached and we'll have to face some Federal guidelines.. How's that going to work out?

I would prefer not to have Arne Duncan, DOE head, anywhere near my kids. He is the one who hired the "safe schools czar" Kevin Jennings, who loves to educate our kids about homosexuality, using pornographic books geared specifically towards kids. if you don't believe me, just google Jenning's name.

Call me cynical when it comes to RTTT funds and how deKalb plans to spend the money.

Anonymous said...

Please don't turn this into a Democrat/Republican thing. Even though Democrats are in power at the federal level, the Republican governor has his hand out as far as it can reach, as do his Republican appointees. Democrats and Republicans alike on the county level also have their hand out. It is disgusting, regardless of whether you are red or blue. The primary problem here is mismanagement of money. There is no shortage of money in education. There is just gross negligence with what they have.

Anonymous said...

Does Macy's carry khaki pants with the seat ripped out? Cause us (teachers) are about to get the shaft.

Now I know why people laugh at me when I say I teach.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what happened to the 10th Amendment?

So much for local school control...

oh wait this is deKalb.

not sure if this will be my last year as a teacher in this county, with all the extra paperwork about to come down. And you people think Beasley is bad? Wait till Arne Duncan shoves more down my throat.

Sandy Spruill said...

Good morning, Cere!

I do agree with your comment about making states compete for RTTT funding. I believe there were other ways to manage this -- but to have state accountability, the federal government would probably have to require that specific things be part of each state's plan. This would fly all over those people who believe that their states know best how to educate their children.

Actually, the federal government provides two primary kinds of grants: formula grants (non-competitive) and discretionary grants (competitive). Competitive grants are used to provide funding even for projects that are mandated nationwide by a federal agency, such as the recent move to digital television. This move, mandated by Congress and overseen by the FCC, was years late in being implemented. IMHO, the primary impediment to prompt implementation was the enormous cost to broadcasters for this switch from analog to digital.

Applying for discretionary grants is a tremendously involved, detailed and costly process (for both broadcasters seeking funds and the federal agencies charged with distributing funds) -- with no guarantee of success in obtaining funds. And, in the case of mandated changes, money still must be found to implement the changes -- no matter how much time and money was spent in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain federal funds.

Could federal funds to education be distributed and managed differently and better? Yes, I think so.

Anonymous said...

The teacher above is bound to be right. Look at what you said about Gwinnett. They are looking at teacher preparedness. The state is requiring more paperwork (e.g., tracking database). How much does anyone want to bet that this translates to teachers spending even more time on paperwork, taking away valuable teaching hours. AND if no monies are going for teachers, then they again be doing more for less, while the state and districts get to hire more administrators to push around the paperwork.


ps. I'm a parent, not a teacher.

Anonymous said...

"How will DeKalb spend their's"

More like, how will the DCSS Central Office spend it for what benefits the administration the most, and how little will actually filter into the classroom? Giving Bob Moseley, Audria Berry, Morcease beaseley, Tony Hunter, etc. an open checkbook? You'd get better return on investment by burning it!

Anonymous said...

I have read all the comments and Cere's post. I was wondering, who made this a republican/democrat issue? Cere, did you delete a post? Please elaborate Anon. on what is partisan about these comments.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the DCSS central office administration will use this RTTT funding to buy themselves new iPads, new iPhones and go to some exotic vacation resorts for some training. THAT would improve our schools and help all of our children.

Cerebration said...

Nope, nothing deleted. Maybe it's just because there's a picture of Duncan and Obama? Personally, I think the Republicans and the Democrats have really messed up public education. Mainly, due to the fact that they are not dealing with the social issues and exponential increases in poverty. They're trying to say it's teachers' faults.

Anonymous said...

More money = more mismanagement by the Palace.

I would like to see this money spent exclusively on the following: upgrade school building facilities so that no one needs trailers, no one has to live in mold, every student has a textbook for every class, and every class is no more than 20-25 students each.

It's entirely possible, if the money is managed properly. I am not buying into a huge cash shortage story until I see proper management.

But that isn't going to happen. I bet that the BOE is going to find a way to get their brother-in-law or neice to spend this new cash the way they spent the old cash. Probably on gold-plated toilet bowls at the Stone Mountain Palace.

If I'm wrong, I'll publicly eat my computer keyboard.

Anonymous said...

If DCSS MIS had their act together, we had adequate access to computers for students and teachers, and software that worked the way it was designed to work, this data crunching would not be such a huge burden for teachers.

DCSS classrooms operate in the dark ages. 2 computers for 30+ students in the classrooms, not enough technology labs, eSis and student data management system that doesn't work on the DCSS side (everyone does realize that SchoolNet is a national company, but it needs local interfacing and programming).

DCSS needs to back up and make sure ALL of the required technology (hardware and software) is in place before they move forward with data collection.

Does Dr. Beasley even realize that bubbling in data is costing students a large amount of time off task, and teachers scanning in hundreds of answer sheets every 6 weeks is terribly inefficient?

Does the DCSS administration understand that anything more than a 24 hour feedback loop of the information meant to modify teachers' instructional delivery severely curtails the benefits of this data analysis for students?

Currently, DCSS has data collection that is onerous to teachers, drains instructional time, and is not timely enough to provide meaningful data. What part of this equation does MIS not understand?

I was not for RTTT either because I felt it will go to more administrative positions and we don't have the MIS support to provide the data that RTTT will provide.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone read the AJC yesterday. The top headline in the Metro section was:
3 counties sat out the Race to the Top
Fulton, Cobb, Forsyth rejected joining state on its application

I'll bet DCSS administrators are already counting the money for new programs and non-teaching positions.

Cerebration said...

I have great reservations with leaders who, when see that their understaffed, over-crowded school system is not working well and students test scores are plummeting, decide to add more "supervisors" and "programs" rather than actual teachers to work one on one with students along with top of the line books and materials.

It just makes no sense, unless you simply view it as greed.

Anonymous said...

I guess people wouldn't be so cynical except DCSS used the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also known as the Stimulus)money to fund the scripted learning program America's Choice instead of using this money for direct instruction of students.

See BOE meeting notes for 4/17/09 on how America's Choice was funded for the 2009 - 2010 school year:
Presented by: Dr. Audria Berry, Executive Director, Office of School Improvement

"This year, the United States released an unprecedented amount of Title I funds to support the education of the most needy children, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)..... The additional focus is providing intensive and effective turnaround support for the lowest-performing schools....."

"The America’s Choice Program Design of Rigor and Readiness helps schools change patterns of low performance and close achievement gaps that may have existed for many years. "

Financial Impact:
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funds of 2009 will be used for this project. The cost for 14 elementary schools is $1,750,000.00, 13 middle schools is $1,950,000.00 and 13 high schools is $2,275,000.00, and Service and materials and supplies are $2,189,703.20. The total cost is $8,164,703.20"

"Requested Action
It is recommended that the Board of Education approve the purchase of America’s Choice Programs: Intensive Design and Rigor and Readiness for the 2009-2010 school year. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funds of 2009 will be used for this project.
The total cost is $8,164,703.20

Of course the BOE approved this.

Not one teacher was added to our classrooms for direct instruction of kids.

Anonymous said...

DCSS used Stimulus Money for one year of payments for America's Choice. Remember when Lewis told the AJC that the $400,000 Hollywood trip for America's Choice training was paid for by Stimulus money. Where did they get $8,000,000+ for this year.

See Pricing contract below. Who wants to bet that the RTTT money gets sucked up into this expensive learning program (+ 80 non-teaching instructional coaches at almost $8,000,000 a year to support it):


Contract Pricing

Rigor and Readiness Initiative
13 Intensive Middle Schools @ $150k = $1,950k
13 Intensive High Schools @$175k = $2,275k

Sub-Total = $4,225k

District Work = $50k (includes Pre-Planning and Year One District Seminars)

Add $300k for ACT

Sub-Total = $4,575,000

Intensive Elementary School Design
14 Intensive Elementary Schools @$125k = $1,750,000

Sub-Total = $6,325,000

Costs Outside the Contact

$1,839,703.20 (See attachments.)

Total = $8,164,703.20

Anonymous said...

I do not think that any more tax payer dollars should be used to fund education unless, the money is directly going to benefit the children. Right now, the money is being wasted. The money would be better used in the hands of tax payers.

Anonymous said...

The first thing we do in our race to the bottom, or top, is give the teachers more tools to gather data with and report to the data-gathering department for data analysis by the data team who can then disseminate the data through the data dissemination network at which point teachers can then use the data to further drive the new data-driven classroom curriculum with best practices making sure that the students perform better on their post-instruction data gathering post-test which should increase student achievement on data based assessment tools for the tools at the top.

Anonymous said...

Teacher raises would be nice. I make less than I did 5 years ago.

Teacher moral is so low. I wish DeKalb could get their act together and truly show the teachers that they are appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the board approved paying for America's Choice again this year. Everyone is suppose to be so "DATA DRIVEN", did they not look at how the title one schools performed after a year with AC. Most of them did worse than the previous year. What a waste of money.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:09

"I can't believe the board approved paying for America's Choice again this year. Everyone is suppose to be so "DATA DRIVEN", did they not look at how the title one schools performed after a year with AC. Most of them did worse than the previous year. What a waste of money."

My understanding is that several high ranking DCSS Central Office personnel now work at America's Choice - that's a big reason.

Wasn't Jim Redovian the BOE member that said he was voting for funding America's Choice again because he didn't know of anything better to offer the students?

How about spending that money on Title I teachers that directly instruct students?

Currently, the America's Choice 80 non-teaching Instructional Coaches are paid with federal Title I and DCSS taxpayers (yes - we pay federal taxes and their 25% override in benefits or $2,000,000 is paid from our local taxes) cost almost $8,000,000 in addition to the $8,000,000 for America's Choice. This equates to around $100,000 for each Instructional Coach.

Anonymous said...

DCSS' middle schools: Our weakest link

The study states:

Why the turn against middle schools?

For more than three decades, American public education embraced this organizational model. Between 1970 and 2000, the number of public middle schools in the U.S. grew more than sevenfold, from just over 1,500 to 11,500. These new middle schools displaced both traditional K–8 primary schools and junior high schools (which first appeared a century ago and served grades 7–8 or 7–9). From 1987 to 2007, the percentage of public-school 6th graders in K–6 schools fell from roughly 45 percent to 20 percent.

Neither the middle school nor the junior high has ever been popular among private schools, which educated only 2 percent of their 6th and 7th graders in these types of schools in 2007. And maybe the private schools have had it right all along. For the last two decades, education researchers and developmental psychologists have been documenting changes in attitudes and motivation as children enter adolescence, changes that some hypothesize are exacerbated by middle-school curricula and practices.

No matter whether students enter a middle school in the 6th or the 7th grade, middle-school students experience, on average, a large initial drop in their test scores. Even after accounting for a host of other factors that influence student achievement, students who eventually attend middle schools go from scoring better than their counterparts in k–8 schools in the year prior to transitioning to middle school to scoring below where we would expect if they were not attending a middle school. Math achievement for 6th graders transitioning to middle school falls by 0.18 standard deviations, and English achievement falls by 0.16 standard deviations.

Anonymous said...

I heard Dekalb won't be receiving any funds becauseof the "mismanagement" and of funds. Anyone know anything about that?