The House approved a war spending bill on Thursday with a provision that would include $10 billion to help school districts avoid educator layoffs, paying for the effort, in part, with $800 million in cuts to several of President Obama’s key education initiatives.
The $80 billion bill would pay for the 30,000 additional troops ordered to Afghanistan.
The education measure provoked fierce debate, especially because it would reduce by $500 million the award money available to three dozen states that have submitted proposals in Round 2 of the Obama initiative, the Race to the Top competition.
To become law, the legislation needs Senate approval. The White House said in a statement that if the final bill included cuts to education reforms, Mr. Obama would most likely veto it.
“It would be short-sighted to weaken funding for these reforms,” the White House said.
Using stimulus money voted on last year, the Department of Education awarded $500 million to Tennessee and $100 million to Delaware in March, and has promised to distribute the $3.4 billion that remains among additional winning states this year. The House bill would reduce the money available to $2.9 billion.
Teachers’ unions lobbied for weeks for federal money to avert what the administration estimates could be hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs.
Several dozen charter school and other advocacy groups lobbied fiercely against cutting Race to the Top, which rewards states promising to overhaul teacher evaluation systems and shake up school systems in other ways.
Representative David R. Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin and chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a longtime ally of the teachers’ unions, unveiled the school jobs provision late Tuesday. In Thursday’s debate, he called Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s objections to trimming Race to the Top “a joke.”
Even with the proposed $500 million cut, Mr. Duncan still has about $3 billion left that “he can spend any way he wants,” Mr. Obey said.
So Obama will actually VETO a jobs bill that would keep teachers employed if that money comes out of his education reform/Race to the Top initiative.
The RttT money CANNOT be used to save teacher jobs.
It can only be used to close "failing schools," build "data-tracking systems" to collect and collate test scores, and other like reform measures.
That's change we can believe in?
Nope - that's lots of unemployed teachers, larger class sizes and chaos in the public schools all across this nation.
It does go to show what President Hopey/Changey actually cares about, however.
If the choice is between paying off Education Management Organization cronies and forcing school districts to fire teachers and close "failing" schools or keep teachers employed, President Hopey/Changey is going with paying off Education Management Organization cronies and forcing school districts to fire teachers and close "failing" schools.
Call the White House and let 'em know what you think about Hopey/Changey's policy:
POSTSCRIPT: Jobs data for June showed the economy losing 125,000 jobs - the worst monthly report since October 2009. The unemployment rate dropped from 9.7% to 9.5% because discouraged workers have stopped looking for work and/or the long-term unemployed no longer qualify for unemployment money and thus are no longer counted in the stats.
Those are NOT good numbers.
In addition, private sector hiring is slowing while states and local governments are beginning to lay off employees.
School districts will be laying off thousands of teachers if the jobs bill money doesn't come through.
Unemployment may now hit double digits before the end of the year.
But Hopey/Changey refuses to keep teachers employed.
Instead he continues to dangle money to cash-starved states, but only if they do the "reforms" he and Arne and the Gates/Broad Foundation people want.
Not enough bad stuff can happen to this administration come November.
And given how the economy is losing steam and tipping toward recession, it looks like lots of bad stuff will happen to them.
House and Senate Dems should call Obama's bluff on the veto.
Make him veto the war bill and explain to the country why it is he thinks charter school and merit pay funding are more important than money for troops or money for working teachers.