The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

June 30, 2010
Stealth cuts in war bill would gut education innovation reforms

Pelosi.jpgThe chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, (Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis.) wants to prevent massive teacher layoffs across the country.

The goal is fine. The means stink.

He has attached a $10 billion "education jobs fund" -- to help local school districts avoid teacher layoffs when schools reopen -- to a funding bill for the troop surge in Afghanistan.

But that's not the worst part. In his effort to find the money to save teaching jobs, Congressman Obey has proposed gutting the "Race to the Top" fund and other education innovation programs that are top priorities for the Obama administration.

Buried in a 110-page amendment that is mostly about oil and energy, are three "rescissions" on pages 64-65:

 -- $500 million from the $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" fund;

-- $100 million from innovation and improvement grants that aim to replicate or expand high-quality charter schools with demonstrated records of success

-- $200 million from the teacher incentive fund, which encourages performance-based teacher and principal compensation systems in high-need schools.

In doing this, Obey has pitted jobs against reform in education, a wrong approach. This country needs both.

As Education Department spokesman Peter Cunningham told Education Week today, "If Congress is determined to find offsets, we will help them do that, but these are not the right ones."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to act directly to get these stealth cuts out of Obey's amendment.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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