Governor Jim Doyle says Wisconsin’s application for $245 million in federal Race to the Top education funding has been completed ahead of schedule, and that getting a controversial change to the governance of the Milwaukee Public Schools will be critical to the success of the state’s application.
During a press conference at Glacial Drumlin middle school in Cottage Grove, Doyle and Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers said more than 431 school districts and charter schools are supporting the state’s application effort, in what Doyle says will be extremely competitive process with other states. “Believe me, every one of those states has good applications,” said Doyle.
Doyle called Wisconsin’s application incredibly ambitious, and added that approving the change in governance for the state’s largest school district-Milwaukee-will be crucial to its success. “If we can’t demonstrate that we’re ready to make significant changes, not only in our educational programming, but in our governance to make sure that those changes will be made, we’re going to have a very hard time,” Doyle said. “This a huge opportunity for Milwaukee, and they’d better understand this isn’t like Wisconsin is the only state asking for Race to the Top. We are in a competition.”
The U.S. Department of Education is expected to announce the first round of Race to the Top awards in March. “I don’t think any state should confidently stand up and say that they should be among the first ten (states to receive funding),” said Doyle. “But I think we have positioned ourselves very well.” Still, Doyle warned that the state’s application could be rejected outright, if a proposal to introduce mayoral governance in MPS is not adopted. Doyle said the Milwaukee schools would stand to recieve nearly $68 million.
Doyle said the state’s application for Race to the Top sets high demands and requires accountability. It also includes several ambitious goals, including cutting the state’s achievement gap between white and minority students in half, and reducing the number of high school droopouts by fifty percent, both by 2013.