Governor Jim Doyle’s education reforms remain on the fast track at the Capitol. The Assembly Education Committee held a hearing Monday on a package of five bills which will enable the state to be eligible for federal Race to the Top education funding. Committee member, Republican Steve Nass, says it’s too bad it took the lure of that money for lawmakers to do something to help Milwaukee schools. “The trigger has always been, ‘if there’s money out there then let’s do it,'” said Nass, who called MPS “a sad story, a basket case,” and added that “instead of doing something even ten years ago, we really did nothing.”
But Milwaukee Democrat Christine Sinicki said the point is that they’re doing something now. “I had some very major concerns and questions with the Race to the Top funds to begin with,” said Sinicki. “But . . . these are the changes that need to be made, to make Milwaukee better. And in order to make Milwaukee Public Schools better, we need to have the funding.”
How much the Race to the Top money does Wisconsin stand to receive, if the bills pass? “There’s for billion dollars out there,” noted state Representative Kim Hixson, who asked state Department of Administration Secretary Michael Morgan how much of that money might end up here. “I don’t think we have a number that we’ve been able to discern, based on our discussions with the U.S. Department of Education,” Morgan told Hixson. “But I do believe that, if we are creative, if we are innovative in the way that we go about putting together our Race to the Top application, the state of Wisconsin will see a big influx of dollars that can be applied to K-through-12 education.”
Morgan said the reform bills, which are being urged by Governor Jim Doyle, are just one piece of the state’s Race to the Top application.