Obama to GOP: Don’t cut education spending


TechBoston, a grades 6-12 pilot school within the Boston school district, opened in 2002 with money from the foundation funded by Melinda Gates and her husband, Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp. It has made big strides academically through combined efforts of government, businesses, philanthropists and community groups.

Pointing to that success, Obama sought to cast public education as a joint effort by all sectors of society.

“Reforming education is the responsibility of every single American, every parent, every teacher, every business leader, every public official and, yes, every student,” he said.

The president’s emphasis on money harkened back to the debates following passage of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind act, when Democrats in particular became disillusioned because they said the Bush administration never spent the money that would have been needed to make the law work.

By now both parties have come to agree that the law is overly prescriptive and should be changed, although it’s not clear Congress will have the appetite for a major education bill at a time when jobs, spending and the deficit are at the forefront.

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Eager to plug his agenda beyond the Washington Beltway, Obama has been traveling once a week, often to political battleground states, to advocate for his policies. Last week he coupled an education event in Miami with a fundraiser for Democrats, making full use of his presidential power — and Air Force One — to blend a bit of policy with a bit of politics.

Obama is making school improvements a major theme of 2011, linking educational excellence to jobs and private-sector competitiveness.

Tuesday’s school visit was also designed to draw attention to Obama’s call for the creation of a federal agency designed to pursue breakthroughs in education technology. Obama requested $90 million for the agency’s first year in the budget blueprint he sent to Congress last month.

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