Melody Barnes, Director of Domestic Policy Council, and Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy, held a conference call with reporters on President Obama’s trip to Wisconsin Wednesday.
Barnes praised Wisconsin for moving aggressively on education reform modeled after a California plan. She says Mr. Obama will talk about the importance of innovation and excellence as part of his education reform plan. Wisconsin lawmakers are working on a package of legislation designed to make sure the state qualifies for federal “Race to the Top” stimulus money, but the legislative session is due to end Thursday so it is crunch time.
The $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” program provides money to encourage states to increase academic standards, find better ways to recruit and keep quality teachers, track student performance and have a plan to turn around failing schools.
Barnes notes the application process for “Race to the Top” starts in a couple of weeks.
Barnes says the President is going to Wisconsin because of the education reform work going on there. He wanted to speak at a school with a diverse student population, and where there is positive achievement growth and this school has both. Rodriguez says Wright Middle School has been recognized by the Wisconsin Department of Education, and is known for its strong core curriculum and for its well-rounded curriculum in terms of offering enrichment programs such as arts and music.
The Race to the Top Fund provides competitive grants to encourage and reward States that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; implementing ambitious plans in the four education reform areas described in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA); and achieving significant improvement in student outcomes, including making substantial gains in student achievement, closing achievement gaps, improving high school graduation rates, and ensuring that students are prepared for success in college and careers.