Reviewing Wisconsin’s Failure in the Race to the Top Grant Process

The Federal “Race to the Top” grant application process was launched right here in Wisconsin. On November 4, 2009, President Barack Obama came to Wright Middle School in Madison to announce the new national competition for one-time federal education dollars.

These grants, the President announced, would be awarded to the states that showed the most vigorous, innovative approach to education reform.

Expectations for Wisconsin’s chances and our seeming home-court advantage were misplaced, however, as the State finished in the bottom half of the applicants in round one, finishing 26th out of 41 applicants.

At the time, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said that the state would “take to heart” the criticisms Wisconsin’s application received. Doyle focused primarily on the criticisms referencing the inability of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to take action against individual schools rather than entire districts and the lack of “buy in” by much of the educational establishment, notably the various school districts and teacher unions.

Yet, despite Governor Doyle’s assurance, and legislative action to address some of initial criticisms, Wisconsin once again failed in second round of the Race to the Top grant program this July.

In this report, Christian D’Andrea, our education reform policy analyst, examines what went wrong with Wisconsin’s application.

Click here for the full report.

Click here for the news release.