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.

June 30, 2010
Who's running against Ellyne Bell? Meet Paige Helen Powell

A June 25 editorial encouraged candidates to step forward to run in the so-far uncontested Area 6 race (covering the Pocket area, and including Kennedy High School, Sam Brannan Middle School and six elementary schools) in the Sacramento City Unified school district.

Since then, people have asked who is running in Area 1, the downtown district, against incumbent Ellyne Bell.

The candidate is Paige Helen Powell, who has lived in Land Park for seven years. Her husband is a McClatchy High graduate. Her sons went to McClatchy High and New Tech High. She's a graduate of Sacramento State University.

For the past 12 years, she has been an English teacher at Roseville High, where she's been recognized as a Placer County "Teacher Who Makes a Difference," received a commendation from the City of Roseville and received a district Award of Excellence.

She says she's running for the school board to:

Put the focus back where it belongs, the kids and education. An observer of board meetings will hear a lot of discussion about adults but very little about students. Too many of our students are failing to achieve at the level necessary to be productive, happy, functioning members of society, and I don't see the necessary alarm that this failure should generate from the current board. This board has spent a lot of time in workshops and meetings talking about how they should govern themselves. We need board members who care more about our kids."

She continues:

"I'm running for the board because we need board members who are deeply alarmed by the precarious financial situation of this district. My opponent has been on this board for almost four years, and it has taken recent grand jury reports and a media spotlight to get a hint of action."

She observes that she has "experience from two different sides of education, a parent and a teacher...The board needs this unique perspective."

This should be an interesting contest.

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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