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Duncan: Governors Have Been Receptive to ESEA

So far, governors appear open to the administration's proposal to make receipt of Title I funds contingent on states adopting higher, more uniform college- and career-readiness standards, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said today. President Barack Obama outlined the proposal in a speech to the governors earlier today, part of his emerging blueprint for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

In today's meeting, which was part of the National Governors Association's Winter Conference, governors voiced "zero" concerns about federal intrusion in state business when it came to the Title I proposal, Secretary Duncan said in an interview with reporters outside the White House.

"This is being lead by the governors," he said. "We have to educate our way to a better economy. All of the governors understand this." He added that the administration hasn't set a hard and fast deadline for releasing all of its ESEA reauthorization proposals.

Some governors said that they were still studying the proposal to make Title I money contingent on adopting college-and-career-ready standards.

"Some of the people who spoke most glowingly about the president's leadership on education were Republican governors," including Gov. Sonny Purdue of Georgia, said Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, a Democrat. "There's was a pretty broad consensus [on education] ... There was none of the sort of parochial throw-down 'Don't tell us what our standards should be,' there really wasn't." He said most governors are aware that their students are competing in a global economy and will need to be prepared accordingly.

But while Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican from Vermont and the chairman of the National Governors Association, said he understood that the nation needs to be more globally competitive, he said he is still studying the administration's Title I proposal.

And he stopped short of saying his state would definitely adopt the common core standards being drafted by the NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers. He also said he didn't know yet just how many of the 48 states that signed onto their Common Core State Standards Initiative would, ultimately, sign on to the proposed standards once they become final.

And in response to questions, he said that federalism will always be a concern when dealing with any state-federal issue.

"Our pitch ... on anything is flexibility," he said.

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