Wisconsin’s Race for the Feedback

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.

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