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Education Funding

Previewing Obama’s Speech in Wisconsin

By Michele McNeil — November 03, 2009 1 min read
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Barack Obama will stop in Wisconsin tomorrow--one year and one day after being elected to the presidency--in advance of a key vote expected Thursday in the state legislature that could put Wisconsin in a better position to compete for the Race to the Top Fund.

Obama will cheer on the legislature as it considers a proposal to lift the ban on using student test scores for teacher evaluations, which would lift the so-called “data firewall” that stands between any state and being eligible for a slice of $4 billion in Race to the Top grants.

In a conference call today, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes said the Obama Administration is taking direct credit for spurring education-reform moves in several states--including similar data firewall actions in California and Indiana, and efforts to improve the charter school climates in Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Ohio and Rhode Island.

Obama is expected to praise states for taking these steps, and encourage Wisconsin to follow along. Barnes did not mention anything about legislation in the Wisconsin legislature to allow the mayor of Milwaukee to take over the city’s schools. That’s something Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, champions.

If you’ll remember from the draft regulations on Race to the Top, while not having a data firewall is a must for Race to the Top, a state’s charter school environment is just part of the larger overall criteria by which states will be judged.

However, any of this could change as the U.S. Department of Education continues to make changes after receiving a slew of comments.

Barnes wouldn’t even give us a hint as to what changes are coming for Race to the Top. And as to when we might see final regulations, applications, and how the criteria will be weighted, she said the administration isn’t at a “final, final” place yet.

So stay tuned here for final, final regulations.