Georgia today won $400 million dollars in federal education dollars. The money part of the “Race to the Top" grant program given to 9 states and the District of Columbia.
Half of the money will go to the State Department of Education, the other half goes to 26 local school systems that have agreed to implement more accountability, merit pay systems and programs to improve student outcomes over the next 3 years. One focus of "Race to the Top" is to close the achievement gap between white and minority students.
Governor Sonny Perdue says the school systems in the grant are a good cross section.
“They Really represent the microcosm of Georgia. Virtually the majority of students in the state, the majority of our minority students are in that demographic. And you have urban, you have suburban and you have rural schools," he says.
The Georgia Association of Educators says it would have liked to see the entire state included in the grant. But Perdue says the other 155 school systems will benefit through the lessons learned from the grant.
The 26 local school districts getting the grants include: Atlanta, Ben Hill, Bibb, Burke, Carrolton, Chatham, Cherokee, Clayton, Dade, DeKalb, Dougherty, Gainesville, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Jones, Meriwether, Muscogee, Peach, Pulaski, Rabun, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Valdosta and White. The participating districts include 46 percent of Georgia's students in poverty, 53 percent of Georgia’s African American students, 48 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of the state’s lowest achieving schools.