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Weingarten Weighs In on Obama Speech

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten had a quick briefing with reporters yesterday on all the edu-action this week.

Asked about President Obama's defense of the Race to the Top program to the National Urban League, Weingarten said it's only natural that the president would focus on the $4.35 billion initiative. She also acknowledged that, despite her union's qualms about certain aspects of the program, Race to the Top demonstrates the power of federal education spending.

"This is one of the president's signature initiatives," she said. "The Race to the Top has proven something really important: that the federal government knows how to be a lever for change."

Of course, in the AFT's view, the Race to the Top is not the be-all-end-all of education reform. The president has signaled that he wants aspects of Race to the Top included in the rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Weingarten said she hopes ideas like the "powerful" ones advanced by the Urban League and a bunch of other civil rights groups this week will be considered, too.

I'll say this, though: Some of those groups are not exactly making that an easy task. As Michele McNeil reports over at Politics K-12, the Rev. Al Sharpton's group apparently no longer supports the "National Opportunity to Learn" framework. An even bigger surprise is that, according to Rev. Sharpton, the NAACP is out, too. (That group has yet to comment.)

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