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Education Funding

‘Dear Arne’ Letters Start Flowing

By Michele McNeil — March 19, 2009 1 min read
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When you’ve got control over $100 billion, and 50 states to deal with, you’re bound to get lots of questions and complaints about the money. Letters from governors and other policymakers about the stimulus package have already started flowing into Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s mailbox.

What follows is the Politics K-12 oversimplified translation for a sampling of these official letters:

* Dear Arne: We don’t have time to wait for official forms and guidance! Nobody’s gambling in our casinos and we are about out of money! Sincerely, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, in a March 18 letter requesting a waiver from one of the stimulus law’s requirements.

* Dear Arne: Pick me! Pick me! We’ve got merit pay in Minnesota already, so make it easy on yourself and just give us your $4.35 billion in incentive funds. Sincerely, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in a March 13 letter urging the secretary to look at his state’s Q Comp model for teacher compensation.

* Dear Arne: Gov. Don Carcieri isn’t playing fair with stimulus money! Make him share. Sincerely, Providence, R.I. mayor David N. Cicilline, in a March 11 letter complaining that the governor’s funding formula unjustly takes away money from his city’s schools.

And for good measure, let’s include South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s letter to President Obama, asking a second time for flexibility in using stimulus money, this time to pay off school construction debt:

*Dear Barack: Do you remember what happened last time South Carolina didn’t get its way? Sincerely, Mark, in a March 17 letter.