The Georgia Chamber of Commerce was heartened to see our state’s significant achievements in education reform recognized earlier this year with a strong finish in the initial round of Race to the Top (RT3) grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education. We believe RT3 represents an excellent opportunity to build on Georgia’s success, and we commend the state on its submission of a second-round application.
Georgia’s commitment to better educational opportunities and outcomes for millions of current and future students has already produced considerable improvement in both our graduation rate and overall student achievement. These improvements have helped our state attract and retain over a dozen Fortune 500 companies, as well as thousands of successful small and midsize businesses. Higher academic standards, greater flexibility and initiatives like Georgia Work Ready — an innovative partnership between our Chamber and the state — are helping Georgia students become the well-educated, well-qualified workforce employers need to compete in today’s global economy.
Should Georgia be granted RT3 funds, we can build on this strong foundation, moving achievement in our state to new heights and attracting increasingly diverse and prosperous industries. Georgia’s roadmap for implementing reforms in RT3’s four assurance areas — standards and assessments, data systems to support instruction, great teachers and leaders, and school turnarounds — is clear and comprehensive, and will allow us to both achieve and sustain those goals. For example, the development of a comprehensive student data system — critical to assessing and incentivizing the performance of students and educators — is well under way. RT3 funding will allow Georgia to refine and perfect this system.
There is no question that RT3 will help our state provide our students with a world-class education that equips them for the high-wage, high-demand jobs of the 21st century. We offer our strong support for Georgia’s application, and we look forward to a strong partnership should the state be awarded these much-needed funds.
George Israel, a former mayor of Macon, is president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.