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AAE Federal Update November 9, 2010
posted by: Colin | November 09, 2010, 05:12 PM   

President Obama, weighing in on the GOP surge in the House and gains in the Senate, called for bipartisanship. "K-12 policy is one area where Republicans and Democrats could see eye-to-eye," he said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Obama stressed that both Democrats and Republicans have a stake in ensuring that America's children "are the best educated in the world. ... That's going to be an area where I think there's potential for common ground."

Obama maintained that he did not want to see spending cuts in areas that are critical to America's economic future, including K-12 education.
There is an obvious ideological fight on spending in this country. Obama once stated, "Money without reform will not work." It will be interesting to see the reform agenda in action when Washington tries to live within a budget.

Kline Outlines Agenda for 112th Congress

Immediately following Tuesday's election results, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee's senior Republican member, outlined broad goals for education. Kline is asking for the support of his fellow Republicans as he seeks the chairmanship of the committee for the 112th Congress, and presumably will easily take the spot.

Kline commented on the economy and the role of excellent schools as critical to our economic growth, "Because quality schools are essential to our economic strength, our efforts will include an emphasis on education reform to ensure all students have the opportunity to thrive in the 21st century." Among these education goals are the following:

  • conducting robust oversight of education and workforce programs across the federal government to protect students, families, workers, and retirees;
  • pursuing education reform that restores local control, empowers parents, lets teachers teach, and protects taxpayers.
Rep. Kline said in an interview before the election that he's skeptical of the administration's $350 million program aimed at helping states develop common assessments. He wants to ensure that it doesn't become a situation in which the Education Department is involved in creating the tests.

The Obama administration has also asked for $1 billion in the 2011 budget to continue the Race to the Top program for an additional year and extend it to districts. Rep. Kline said in the interview that he would not support additional funding. He has said that the program was too rigid and imposed federal policy preferences on states.

There are, however, issues on which Rep. Kline says he can work with the Obama administration, including supporting high performing charter schools.

Duncan Addresses Losses in House

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was hopeful last week that Republican gains in the House of Representatives will not derail the Obama education agenda. "We used to be at the top of the world" in education rankings, Arne Duncan told the Associated Press last Thursday. "People think we're still there, but we're not." Due to these circumstances, Duncan says he is "very hopeful" that the new Congress will be able to come together to meet education challenges.

"I have a good relationship with (future House Speaker) John Boehner. I've known Boehner for years, I look forward to continuing to work with him." A relationship with the Speaker of the House is crucial to push Obama-backed reforms.

Duncan has been working with lawmakers from both parties for months on getting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorized and said that this was an example of bipartisanship. "We're looking forward to reauthorizing and hopefully moving pretty quickly," he said.

He was also optimistic about the future of Race to the Top, a program of federal education grants for states that follow through with reforms. The White House has asked for $1.35 billion to give to states that the Education Department wasn't able to fund in two earlier rounds. Republicans, however, have campaigned against expanding funding.

The administration once had a major ally in George Miller, the outgoing chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee - a job now expected to go to Congressman John Kline, who wants to scale back the role of the federal government in education.

Duncan used market-based rhetoric to push his case for reforms calling education "an investment, not an expense."

Duncan Speaks at UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNCESCO)

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in London and Paris last week capping off his trip with a speech at the United Nation Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization about education reform in the United States.

Duncan met with education leaders in Europe in effort to share best practices in education reform. He remarked that many in Europe face similar education challenges "Education leaders across the world share a common goal to empower our youth and invest in our nation through education. As I continue to meet with leaders... from other countries, I look forward to learning about their experiences so we can pursue their best ideas in the United States."

The speech was geared to an international audience as he advocated for comprehensive reforms, arguing that a well-educated world will ensure a secure economy. A full text of his speech can be read here.

>> Originally posted by Alix on the AAE Blog.
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