Wisconsin’s Race for the Feedback

By 01/07/2010

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The Department of Education will announce Phase 1 winners of Race to the Top money in April. The department notes that “Feedback [will be] provided to applicants who do not win.”

Wisconsin appears to be a prime candidate for feedback.

President Obama used a speech in Madison last November to describe the RTTT framework. Prior to his trip a White House spokesman said Wisconsin was chosen as the venue because the state was considering the kind of “positive” actions that fit the President’s criteria.

In the subsequent two months the Legislature failed to enact key measures outlined by Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. These included a plan to transfer control of the Milwaukee Public Schools to the city’s mayor and a proposal to strengthen the hand of the state’s superintendent of public instruction. At a special legislative session called by Doyle in December neither measure even came up for a vote. A daylong public hearing on the measured was held on January 5 and is described here.

On January 6 Doyle acknowledged the obvious fact that neither proposal is going anywhere, at least in the near future. As described in this report, the state will seek $254 million in RTTT money without referencing the mayoral takeover. Noteworthy in the article is the following: “The school districts received a letter Wednesday from the state laying out the requirements. About 100 school districts immediately committed to the requirements, and state School Superintendent Tony Evers said he expected virtually all districts to do so by the deadline.” A copy of the “requirements” was not immediately available, though the article mentions that schools would be required to set “higher standards and creat[e] teacher mentoring programs.”

Previously, the state had enacted a tepid set of measures touted as being designed to help the RTTT cause. They are described here. The most notable, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, is “a bill Monday allowing teachers to be evaluated – but not disciplined or dismissed – based on student performance.”

It will be interesting to see what kind of “feedback” Wisconsin gets.

Comment on this article
  • George Mitchell says:

    The devil’s in the details, as they say.
    Expect many interesting revelations to emerge as the RTTT saga unfolds. Consider, for example, the apparent requirement in Wisconsin’s grant application that school districts establish 4-year old kindergarten if they receive RTTT funds. As noted here
    in the Wisconsin State Journal (“Schools could be pressured to adopt 4-year-old kindergarten”)
    “Madison schools might need to commit to launching a four-year-old kindergarten program as part of the state’s application for $254 million in federal “Race to the Top” stimulus money, state officials said Wednesday…
    “…At a time of declining state aid for schools, Madison school officials have said it could be challenging to find the funding to start a major new program like four-year-old kindergarten.”

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