Feds To Withhold Some Of Georgia’s Race To The Top Funds – Or Maybe Not

Updated Per Jim Galloway:  Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the (report below)  is inaccurate and that the U.S. Department of Education is expected to soon “set the record straight.”  

Updated Again (and bumped) per State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge:

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. The state of Georgia is not ready to implement a statewide merit pay system. Because four years ago that was written into our Race to the Top application, the U.S. Education Department is initiating withholding procedures for $9.9 million of our $400 million grant. That portion of our grant has not yet been spent in Georgia. We will continue to work with federal officials to develop a plan regarding this issue. But it is critical that we establish an accurate measurement tool for educator performance before we ever consider linking it to merit bonuses for Georgia’s teachers. This notification from the Education Department does not hinder the implementation of our Teacher and Leader Keys Effectiveness Systems. We remain ahead of schedule for statewide rollout in 2014-15, and we are currently training and credentialing evaluators in districts across the state.

This one’s going to leave a mark.  Federal “Race to the Top” dollars have been an issue that has divided Georgia’s GOP establishment.  Georgia’s elected officials have pursued them as additional money for cash strapped schools while the opposition fears giving the federal government additional power over matters that are considered to be the most sacred of local control powers.

Now, after Georgia agreeing to meet the federal conditions to get additional federal funds, some of them won’t be coming to the Peach State.  As reported on the Education Week blog, the Feds will be withholding some of what was once on it’s way here:

The U.S. Department of Education is planning to take the unprecedented step of withholding part of Georgia’s Race to the Top grant over problems the state is having implementing its teacher-evaluation plans, according to emails obtained by Politics K-12.

Today’s planned action would mark the first time the Education Department has formally moved to take back award money from the Obama administration’s signature education-improvement effort.

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. At the time, federal officials wanted more information about the quality of the tools the state is using for its educator-evaluation pilot program, for example. And they wanted to know whether supports being given to districts can be scaled.

Then, federal officials warned the state that it was at risk of losing $33 million. More details are expected to be announced later this afternoon by the federal Education Department. Georgia officials had no immediate comment.

A GOP that has recently divided itself over Common Core standards now has more grist for internal divisiveness in education policy.  Because the Feds have now demonstrated that what they give, they can also take away.  Strings, apparently, have consequences.



  1. Jackster says:

    So when Barge appointed a non Deal approved appointee to oversee this implementation, will we now see the Gov come back and wash his hands of it?

    Also, if local boards have “flexibility” on funding distributions and meeting metrics for KPIs, do those change bsed on this ruling?

    My sources say it doesn’t matter: Local school boards have set their budgets for next year, and this could be postponed until after 2014’s election year.

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