Making Colorado Feel Good: Hey Wisconsin, It's Called Race to the TOP

Colorado isn’t the only state angling for Race to the Top federal education reform grant funds. Some people say our state is on the inside track to get a share of the money. Meanwhile, the results from last week’s Denver school board election has some urban reformers worried that the grant application could be in jeopardy.

It may help buoy the hopes of reformers to look at other states who seem to have similar, or even worse, struggles. I’m talking about Wisconsin. As legislators in the Badger State closed out their session last week, they approved a bill being touted as a way to make the state eligible for Race to the Top money. (For more background on the debate, check out the latest edition of School Reform News for a piece written by contributing editor — and my Education Policy Center friend — Ben DeGrow.)

Yet as George Mitchell notes for Education Next, the devil is in the details of Wisconsin’s “tepid” so-called reform. Saying student test data may be used in part to evaluate teacher performance, but only subject to collective bargaining negotiations? If that’s all it takes to win federal education reform money, color even this not-yet-cynical 5-year-old unimpressed.

We shall see. But in the meantime, if Colorado needed at least one lousy competitor state to make us feel better about our Race to the Top grant application, Wisconsin is doing fine work in a supporting role.