Wisconsin K-12 education has lost out in the race to the top for a second time. Wisconsin is one of 35 states that applied for phase two Race to the Top education reform money provided through the U.S. Department of Education. President Barack Obama announced the competition, which rewards states for having comprehensive, state-supported school reform plans, during a visit to Wisconsin in November, 2009. State officials here were initially optimistic about Wisconsin’s chances, but Federal education officials announced Tuesday that the Badger State is not among the 19 finalists that will advance towards $3.4 billion in education funding. Wisconsin also failed to make the cut in phase one of the Race to the Top competition.
In a statement, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said that just by being among 36 applicants for funding, Wisconsin laid the ground work for major change in public education. Evers notes the state’s application had the support of 97 percent of school districts and 81 percent of participating unions, which represents unprecedented collaboration on the part of teachers, administrators, and school board members.
Wisconsin Education Association Council president Mary Bell said that while educators are disappointed, Wisconsin still can and must move ahead on education reform. In her statement, Bell said many of the initiatives in Wisconsin’s application are being undertaken by local school districts, and that will benefit students.