President Barack Obama will speak at a Madison middle school about education in the state and nation on the one-year anniversary of his election to office Wednesday.
According to a statement released Friday by the White House, Obama will travel to Wright Middle School on the city’s south side to address select students, faculty and press on his plan to improve the nation’s educational system.
United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will accompany Obama on his Madison visit, the statement said.
Lee Sensenbrenner, spokesperson for Gov. Jim Doyle, said late last week Doyle informed the Obama administration on the effect of stimulus funding on education in the state and various education changes being proposed.
“The Recovery Act has ensured that schools haven’t had to make a lot of devastating cuts,” Sensenbrenner said. “[Doyle] also talked to the White House about Race to the Top program.”
The Race to the Top fund is a federal program which offers stimulus grants to states who implement certain federal recommendations for improving education, including allowing the use of student standardized test scores on teacher evaluations.
Rep. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire, a member of the Assembly Committee on Education, said he is very happy about Obama’s visit.
“I think it sends the message we are an important piece to his strategy to how we approach education and I appreciate the president recognizing Wisconsin’s role in education,” Smith said. “For a long time Wisconsin has been proud of its heritage of supporting education.”
Smith added the committee will hold a public hearing Monday on proposals relating to Race to the Top’s recommended improvements.
This visit to Madison marks the first for Obama as president. He last came in February 2008, when he was a candidate in the Democratic presidential primaries. Obama spoke to a crowd of nearly 20,000 people at the Kohl Center.
The president also planned to visit the city just before the presidential election in October 2008 but cancelled his trip in order to visit his grandmother in Hawaii, who was in the last few weeks of her life.
Obama visited Madison in October 2007 as well and spoke to community members at Monona Terrace to build support for his upcoming presidential bid.