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Obama: Education Money Must Come With Reform

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As Congress is poised to spend at least $80 billion on education programs—and possibly much more—President Barack Obama said in a prime-time news conference tonight that more money for education must be followed by more reform.

And he said he'd work in a bipartisan way to make sure that polices like expanding charter schools and removing ineffective teachers are put in place, along with the increased resources.

"I think there are areas like education where some in my party have been too resistant to reform and have argued only money makes a difference. And there have been others on the Republican side or the conservative side who said, 'No matter how much money you spend, nothing makes a difference, so let's just blow up the public school systems.' And I think that both sides are going to have to acknowledge we're going to need more money for new science labs, to pay teachers more effectively, but we're also going to need more reform, which means that we've got to train teachers more effectively, bad teachers need to be fired after being given the opportunity to train effectively, that we should experiment with things like charter schools that are innovating in the classroom, that we should have high standards."

The statement seemed to be a response to GOP lawmakers—and some Democrats—who say that the proposed stimulus package working its way through Congress pumps too much money into schools, without enough strings.

It's unlikely Obama's appeal will actually translate into more Republican votes for the super-sized stimulus package, but it does seem to signal that the president isn't planning to boost education spending without asking for something in return from the nation's school system.

Obama made it clear that he also considers federal funding of school construction to be a key economic stimulus and investment in the future, even though a huge chunk of the funding for school facilities is slated be stripped out of the Senate's bill as part of an agreement forged by moderate lawmakers to win passage of the measure.

"I visited a school down in South Carolina that was built in the 1850s," Obama said. "Kids are still learning in that school, as best they can. ... It's right next to a railroad. And when the train runs by, the whole building shakes and the teacher has to stop teaching for a while. The auditorium is completely broken down; they can't use it. So why wouldn't we want to build state-of-the-art schools with science labs that are teaching our kids the skills they need for the 21st century, that will enhance our economy, and, by the way, right now, will create jobs?"

The House bill includes about $14 billion in school construction spending, plus bonds to help finance school facilities. But $16 billion in money for school facilities was stripped out of the Senate's bill, as part of a compromise agreement worked out with Senate moderates. The Senate compromise version still includes the tax provisions for school construction bonds.

But Obama's high-profile support of the school construction funds could signal that his administration may fight for some money for grants to cover the cost of school facilities, in addition to the bonds provision, when the House and Senate eventually reconcile their versions of the bill in conference.

You can read a transcript of the press conference here.

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Group: Tie Education Funding To Corporal Punishment Ban
.The stimulus package winding through Congress has lots of money for education. Reports indicate that most funds would go to economically depressed districts struggling to meet desired education outcomes.

Are lawmakers throwing money at education programs using worn out, unsupported practices like corporal punishment? Probably so, and they could do something about it. They could tie education funding to ending practices like corporal punishment.

Twenty-one states still allow educators to hit children with boards as punishment for breaking school rules. It’s an antiquated and barbaric practice that sometimes leads to injuries requiring medical care and hospitalization. It is not supported by research and has been condemned by more than 50 national child/family-serving professional organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Education Association, the American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association.

More than a quarter of a million school children are paddled annually according to the U.S. Department of Education in its latest survey. Children paddled most frequently are poor, minorities, children with disabilities and boys.

Where is most of the paddling done? The paddle swings most often in states with poor education outcomes – low achievement levels, high dropout rates, and poor graduation rates. These are the education programs which are most likely to see increased funding to help them improve education outcomes.

Every education program imposes conditions on how schools use money. The government prohibits physical punishment to train animals under the Animal Welfare Act, the Horse Protection Act and other laws. Don’t school children deserve protection from being hit with boards?

Tying corporal punishment bans to federal funding would end the practice.

Nadine Block, Executive Director of the Center for Effective Discipline and co-chair of EPOCH-USA

155 W. Main Street #1603, Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 221-8829 [email protected]

www.stophitting.org corporal punishment laws, status of use, effects, and alternatives

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