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Race To The Top application on its way to Washington

By Laura Weber, Michigan Public Radio Network

LANSING, MI – Michigan's application for $400 million in federal education-reform money is expected to head to Washington today. But only a handful of local teachers unions support the "Race To The Top" reforms, which could jeopardize Michigan's chances to win the money.

The application hit a snag last week when some state Board of Education members were hesitant to sign onto the plan. Then the state's largest teachers' union - the Michigan Education Association - urged local unions to refuse to sign on. The federal rules call for consensus to push ahead with reforms such as evaluating teachers performances based on their students test scores.

State Senator Wayne Kuipers says he's not surprised that some groups withheld their support.

"I think it really was an issue of what was contained in the reforms and an unwillingness to make those changes at the local level," Kuipers says.

The MEA says Michigan could not win enough money to cover the costs to implement the reforms. The teachers union says it cannot support the application without more details on how the reforms will work.

If the state does not win the money in April, there will be a second chance to apply in the summer.

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