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Adviser Says Obama Is Serious About Education Agenda

With financial markets melting down and the auto industry seeking a bailout, the assumption is that federal education funding might feel the squeeze in coming years.

But President-elect Barack Obama may surprise people and find room in the federal budget for the $30 billion a year it will take to make his education agenda a reality, one of his campaign's education advisers said Tuesday.

"He has talked about education as an investment in a very serious way" and he sees his education proposals as ways "to grow the economy," Linda Darling-Hammond told the National Academy of Education at an event in Washington, where researchers outlined their recommendations for K-12 policy.

The event was open to the press, unlike Darling-Hammond's speech to the Council of Chief State School Officers on Sunday.

The Stanford University professor sounded more optimistic about the prospects for increases in education funding than many others who track the federal budget.

The $30 billion price tag for the Obama agenda may sound big, she said, but it's a small fraction of federal spending.

"Thirty billion dollars is decimal dust in the federal budget," Darling-Hammond concluded.

Darling-Hammond also repeated the president-elect's promise to double the education research and development budget, "with emphasis on the 'D' in R&D," she said.

Whether Obama will deliver on those promises when he proposes his first budget remains to be seen, Darling-Hammond said. But she believes there's a good chance he will.

"The indications are that we will see a president who is very, very committed to this," she said.

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