A few days ago, Georgia announced that it was dropping out of PARCC, the Common Core testing consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Education. State officials said the state could not afford the technology or the cost.

The U.S. Department of Education was swift to respond. It wrote Georgia to warn that it is withholding $10 million from the state’s Race to the Top funding. Maybe the timing was a coincidence. Maybe not.

The state says it needs more time to fix its educator evaluation system before it can be implemented, but the Feds insist that Georgia must start evaluating teachers and principals based on test scores without further delay.

Now for a dose of reality. Research does not support any part of Race to the Top. Research shows that tying educator evaluations to test scores produces narrowing the curriculum, gaming the system, teaching to the test, cheating, and score inflation. The most “effective” teachers teach the most affluent students in the most affluent schools. The least “effective” teach the poorest. Research shows that over 100 years of trying, merit pay has Never worked. Teachers are doing the best they know how; they are not holding back and hoping for a bonus or a biscuit.

Race to the Top will someday be remembered in the history books as a Grand Detour, when ideologues gained control of federal policy and used an economic crisis to dangle money in front of the states so they would agree to implement failed policies.

All of this will change, but not until there is wiser leadership in Washington, wise enough to banish Race to the Top and recover a common sense approach to education reform based on what children and schools need, not what misguided politicians demand.