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Obama plans to praise state's educational innovations in today's talk in Madison

When President Obama speaks in Madison today, the White House says he'll praise Wisconsin for coming up with innovative ways to improve education.

But none of them have passed the state Legislature yet, and some are getting resistance from lawmakers in both parties.

On Monday, Wisconsin school boards said they would oppose a bill the state needs to pass, to qualify for federal stimulus money that Obama will highlight in his speech as part of his "Race to the Top" program.

And Tuesday, state Democratic finance co-chairman Mark Miller raised concerns about the program.

In a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Miller said he's worried about committing the state to expensive educational changes with no assurance of how much would come in federal grants.

Duncan will join Obama in his Madison visit today.

Meanwhile, leaders in the Legislature have balked at Gov. Jim Doyle's proposal to give Milwaukee's mayor control of that city's embattled school system.

Some disagree with Doyle that it would make the schools more accountable than they are under the current elected School Board.

Also, the Legislature must abolish the state law against using student test scores to evaluate teachers in order to qualify for the stimulus cash.

But the bill says teachers could still not be disciplined or fired over low student performance - and while the teachers' unions endorse that, the School Boards' Association says they're against it.

GOP leaders have said Obama's visit is really about greasing the skids to get Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to run for governor next year.

But Barrett scoffs at that.

He says he can't believe the president of the United States would schedule a major trip and all the hassles that go with it just to lobby someone who hasn't decided what to do yet.