There are new developments in Wisconsin’s quest for Race To The Top money, an effort highlighted by President Obama’s decision to deliver a speech on education in Madison earlier in November. The most reasonable conclusion: if the state actually gets some or all of the $250 million for which it is eligible, then RTTT is meaningless.
The latest news:
With teacher union representatives at his side, Governor Jim Doyle signed a package of bills that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said improve “Wisconsin’s chances of landing a share of $4.35 billion in federal Race to the Top funds.” The paper apparently reached that conclusion because a White House spokesman cited “positive” developments in Wisconsin prior to President Obama’s visit. The central piece of legislation signed by Doyle is one “allowing teachers to be evaluated – but not disciplined or dismissed – based on student performance.” The bill was drafted with input from the Wisconsin affiliate of the National Education Association. Arguably, it achieves no real change.
Doyle’s goal of a mayoral takeover of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) — a step he says is key to getting RTTT money — is on life support. Milwaukee’s legislative delegation is sharply divided on the plan. Further, teacher union opposition, and concerns expressed by key non-Milwaukee legislators, make legislative approval unlikely. And now there is the decision by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett that he will seek to replace the outgoing Doyle in the 2010 elections; the effect is to greatly undermine the argument the he should be given control of MPS.
Finally, teacher unions and Milwaukee legislative opponents of a mayoral takeover have put forth an alternative. As one might expect, this plan, not yet in bill form, offers no promise of actual reform.
Out of all this the state is supposed to piece together a persuasive application for RTTT funds?