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State team set for big R2T show

The full team that will pitch Colorado’s Race to the Top application in Washington next Tuesday has been named and will make a trial run on Saturday at an event organized by the Aspen Institute.

According to Education Week, “a select group of states— Colorado, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Tennessee are among them—have been invited by the nonprofit Aspen Institute to do a dry run of their presentations.” Institute officials wouldn’t confirm the list, but a state official told EdNews that Colorado is participating.

The real oral exam comes Tuesday afternoon, when the delegation will have a 90-minute session with the examiners who scored Colorado’s written application. And, following that, the 16 R2T finalists will have budget meetings with U.S. Department of Education officials.

The format of those meetings isn’t clear, but one report suggested state delegations might be asked to talk about what they’d cut if they don’t receive their full requests. Colorado has asked for $377 million. Previous federal guidance suggested that states of Colorado’s size might receive only $60 to $175 million.

Lt. Gov.  Barbara O'Brien led the state's Race to the Top effort.
Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien is leading the state's Race to the Top effort.

State presentation teams are limited to five people. Colorado’s will include Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, education Commissioner Dwight Jones, Associate Commissioner Rich Wenning, Assistant to the Commissioner Nina Lopez and Linda Barker, director of teaching and learning for the Colorado Education Association.

O’Brien, who will leave office in January, was president of the Colorado Children’s Campaign for 16 years before her election in 2006.

Jones, named commissioner is June 2007, previously was superintendent of the Fountain-Fort Carson schools and a vice president of Edison Schools.

Wenning has been a key figure in crafting the state’s R2T application and also in building the state’s SchoolView.org online data system and developing Colorado’s new district accountability system. He’s a former executive of the Colorado League of Charter schools, a consultant to the Denver Public Schools and a senior vice president at New American Schools.

Lopez, who has coordinated American Recovery and Reinvestment Act programs at CDE since last May, was also a key figure in the state’s application and is vice chair of the new Educator Effectiveness Council. She formerly was a vice president at the Children’s Campaign and worked at the League of Charter Schools and the Donnell-Kay Foundation. She co-chaired the education committee for Gov. Bill Ritter’s transition team. Lopez is on the board of KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy.

Barker, a former Montana teacher of the year, works on teaching and learning policy issues for the CEA, the state’s largest teachers union. She has served on a number of education committees and is a liaison to various education groups and state agencies.

Ritter, Jones and O’Brien repeatedly have stressed the importance of collaboration among education groups, including CEA, in developing the state’s R2T application. They argue that lasting and effective reform can’t be achieved without the participation of a wide range of interests.

Federal officials are expected to announce the R2T winners early next month.

Related: States prep for R2T “oral exams”

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