If you pay attention to education headlines, you know that Congress has been talking about whether to authorize money to stave off teacher firings. The initial motion was to add $23 billion to a war appropriations bill. When that failed, Rep. David Obey D. WI decided to attempt a new tactic. Instead of $23 billion, he’s now asking for $10 billion with some of the money coming from previous education authorizations: $100 million from “innovation and improvement” (Alyson Klein thinks that means charters), $200 million from the Teacher Incentive Fund, and $500 million from Race to the Top. So let’s see, if we add that together, that makes somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 million or 8% of what he’s proposing. He obviously can’t think that that small amount is enough of a concession to get others to sponsor a $10 billion bill. The only logical answer is that he doesn’t approve of the programs that he’s taking money from.
Perhaps this might shed some light. Ah. So he’s one of those democrats. The new proposal seems to have less to do with giving teachers extra money than it does to taking away from the Administration’s priorities. Stafford Palmieri has a pretty decent assessment of the situation. She points out that his plan is specifically to take away from reforms and give more to the status quo. I’m not sure how expects this one to get passed if the last one didn’t. Obviously, the ED is none too pleased. My good friend Jeff Robinson had an interview with Arne Duncan yesterday about it. Jeff asks him why he thinks extra money is needed when the last appropriations still haven’t been spent. Duncan says that it’s because the money is meant for use in the long-run, but isn’t the point that it’s needed now when the economy is down, not in the future?
The Ed Department Spokesman, Peter Cunningham’s quote probably sums this up the best: If Congress is determined to find offsets, we will help them do that, but these are not the right ones. It’s hard to imagine much support for the measure, especially since round two of RttT is in the books and states are just waiting to cash in.