Fresh from his defeat on health care reform, he is turning his attention tonight to education deform, and it's as bad as you think it's going to be:
President Obama will propose a major increase in funding for elementary and secondary education for the coming year in Wednesday's State of the Union address, one of the few areas that would grow in an otherwise austere federal budget, officials said.
The funding would include a $1.35 billion increase in Obama's "Race to the Top" competitive grants for school reform. It would also set aside $1 billion to finance an overhaul of No Child Left Behind, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The $1 billion fund would be held out as a carrot for a successful legislative conclusion. One top aide to the president described it as an "incentive necessary to implement the kinds of reforms that we believe are necessary."
Obama has encouraged efforts by states to raise school standards and improve testing. Aides said that in the president's State of the Union speech, he will make a forceful call for broad reforms of the way school performance is measured and rewarded.
In other words, if you want federal money for education, you better complete the following - additional standardized tests at all levels in all subjects, teacher pay tied to testing, teacher evaluation tied to testing, more school closures and lifting state caps on charter schools completely.
Oh, and don't forget additional days in the school year and additional hours in the school day.
It will be interesting to see if he gets what he wants in education. He is roundly hated by Repubs and they really don't want to give him any victories these days, sensing that they can knock off many Dems in 2010 and Obama himself in 2012. And there have to be some Dems who think his public school privatization policies are jive. It is possible that his pro-privatization agenda can be beaten back.
But I am not too hopeful about that. He can't lose every issue and if there's any issue that might see bipartisan support, breaking the teachers unions and imposing charter schools in every urban area in the nation just might be it.