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News from around Wisconsin (10:32 p.m. 1/6/10)

Milwaukee reform out of Wis. application for money

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Jim Doyle isn’t counting on the Legislature reforming Milwaukee Public Schools or empowering the state superintendent to intervene in failing schools before Wisconsin applies for federal education stimulus money.

Not making those changes certainly will weaken the state’s application for Race to the Top money, Doyle said Wednesday. Even so, he called Wisconsin’s pitch for some of the $4.5 billion in federal money “incredibly ambitious.”

The application, due Jan. 19, won’t include reference to Doyle’s proposal that the Milwaukee mayor be given control of that city’s schools or another that the state superintendent be given more power to intervene in struggling schools.

Both ideas are stagnating in the Legislature.

Even without the changes, Doyle said he was confident Wisconsin could compete for up to $250 million under Race to the Top. If the state doesn’t win any grants in the first round, expected to be awarded in April, it can compete for a second round of awards.

Wisconsin schools that want some of the grant money have until Jan. 13 to say whether they are willing to agree to requirements, such as starting teacher mentoring programs, implementing kindergarten for 4-year-olds and becoming part of a statewide data collection system.

State Superintendent Tony Evers said hundreds already responded on Wednesday within hours of the notice being sent, saying they would participate.

Packers’ Rodgers readies for playoff debut

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — It took nearly 10 minutes, but Aaron Rodgers finally acknowledged that there’s something special about starting in the postseason.

The Packers quarterback has made sure he’s so focused that his playoff debut is just another game. He said Wednesday that he was “excited,” though his face certainly didn’t show it.

When Rodgers leads Green Bay against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Pro Bowler who had a rocky beginning simply by being the man who replaced Brett Favre will get his first crack on the playoff stage.

A lot of the questions about filling Favre’s shoes have vanished, but there are new, higher expectations.

“I dreamt about playing in Super Bowls, but obviously you’ve got to win these playoff games to get there,” Rodgers said. “Like I said, often the quarterback, fair or unfair, is given credit or given blame for the win or the loss. I’ve never seen a quarterback win a game all by himself.

“It’s going to take a great effort by all of our guys this week and hopefully this can be the beginning of a great playoff run.”

Rodgers has already had a great run in his career as a starter in Green Bay with consecutive seasons of throwing for more than 4,000 yards and 58 TDs total in the span. But postseason success is what’s remembered, and Rodgers singled out Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Tom Brady for their success in January and February.

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