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Education Funding

Obama Himself Approved Data-Firewall Absolute

By Michele McNeil — July 24, 2009 1 min read

Only two things can render a state ineligible for Race to the Top grants.

And only one of them is a biggie: the student-teacher data firewall issue.

This effectively means New York, California, and Wisconsin, at the very least, are ineligible for Race to the Top—or will at least have some explaining to do. They have laws on the book that essentially bar the use of student-achievement data in some teacher-evaluation decisions.

Whether to elevate any criteria to the category of “must have,” and if so, which ones, was apparently the subject of a lot of discussion among education department staffers. Should the charter-school cap issue be make-it or break-it? Should another teacher-quality measure get top billing?

When Education Department staff members finally settled on the data firewall rule, which would effectively knock out two states with giant student populations and powerful Congressional delegations, I’m told that education staffers took it up to those above their pay grades.......

To Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and eventually, to the president himself. And Obama, apparently, didn’t need much convincing.

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