Obama’s ed budget a tough sell on Capitol Hill

The proposed budget includes $900 million for a Race to the Top competition for districts and rural communities. Education officials credit the first two rounds of the competition with a wave of education reforms throughout the nation, including adopting common academic standards, changing teacher evaluations so that instructors are held accountable for student achievement, and allowing for more charter schools.

Duncan said the new Race to the Top would allow these efforts to continue at the district level. Republicans have already said they would oppose another round of the competition.

Also included in the budget is $350 million for a similar competitive grant program aimed at early education.

Jacqueline Jones, senior adviser for early learning at the Department of Education, said the nation lacks a coordinated system of early care and education, instead relying on a number of different funding sources that she said results in significant variations in quality.

The competition would reward those who have taken a lead in reforming early education.

Other programs the Obama administration has introduced, including Promise Neighborhoods, which would provide family and cradle to career support services for distressed schools and communities, would be continued.

“What they’re trying to do is spur innovation, replicate success,” Charles Barone, director of federal policy for the Democrats for Education Reform. “That’s where federal government is able to make the most impact.”

Obama’s budget would also set aside $80 million to prepare 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next decade.

Petrilli questioned the focus on these teachers now.

“It just feels kind of random right now, at a time when all kinds of teachers are being laid off,” he said

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