President Barack Obama is urging Congress not to cut his signature education reform initiative.
“The President believes that we need to keep teachers in the classroom, and we have worked with Congress to find a way to pay for it. But the President also feels very strongly that we should not cut funding for Race to the Top, one of the most sweeping reform initiatives in a generation,” Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the White House, said in an e-mail.
[UPDATE (6 p.m.): The administration turned that up a notch tonight, warning Congress in a statement: “If the final bill presented to the President includes cuts to education reforms, the President’s senior advisors would recommend a veto.”]
Still, the version of the $10 billion edujobs bill that the House could vote on as early as tonight is likely to include the $800 million in cuts to Race to the Top, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and funding for charter schools that Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, proposed. There are only five amendments set to be considered and none of them changes the offsets.
The cuts would help pay for a $10 billion fund to help states stave off teacher layoffs and $5 billion in new money for Pell Grants.
The House could also consider a change that would boost funding for summer youth jobs by $1 billion. That was supposed to be part of a tax bill that Democratic leaders in Congress have been trying to pass.
If the bill does pass, it’s not the last word on the cuts.
Veteran education advocate, Joel Packer, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, told me there’s still time for the administration and moderate Democrats to find other offsets. (Packer’s organization emphatically supports the edujobs bill, even though it finds the cuts to other education programs “unfortunate.”)
If the bill passes the House, it will still need to get through the Senate, which returns from the Fourth of July recess the week of July 12, giving opponents of the cuts (who apparently include Obama) time to propose an alternative plan.