Republican congressmen and conservative think tanks have rallied behind Rush Limbaugh and have mounted a media campaign to oppose Barack Obama's education stimulus package. Limbaugh's move up the Republic food chain from radio kook to erstwhile congressional caucus leader shows how far right the party has moved and how isolated it's become since Obama's election victory.
The stimulus would more than double the current federal commitment to public education, in this time of desperate need, and offer an alternative to the past unfunded mandates of Bush's No Child Left Behind era.
Arne Duncan in USA Today:
Educators have long said two programs — Title I aid to poor children and funding for the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — are vastly underfunded. Duncan, the former Chicago Public Schools CEO, agreed, saying he's been "on the other side of this fence" for years. "This is righting a historical injustice, a historical wrong," he said. "These have been desperately underfunded, in some cases for decades."
The new Obama school stimulus package has lots going for early childhood programs, teacher preparation and new school construction. It is estimated that it could save thousands of teachers’ jobs, thereby keeping class sizes from shooting out the roof.
But for the Limbaugh Party it’s all gloom and doom, since like Rush, many members in Congress and in the conservative think tanks, hope for and predict failure for an Obama-led reform.
Just listen to Fordham think-tankers Finn & Petrilli writing in the latest Forbes (“Will the recession kill school reform?”). They equate money for early childhood programs as crack for a junkie.
Even $100 billion of federal largesse won't be enough to plug the holes in school budgets over the next several years. The sick patient isn't cured. Rather, this whopping cash injection is more like an anesthetic that delays the pain for another day--when, no doubt, education lobbies will call for still more cash from Uncle Sam.
They cite their pal Rick Hess from the American Enterprise Institute who, in the same vein (no pun intended) equates educators with bar boozers:
“It’s like an alcoholic at the end of the night when the bars close, and the solution is to open the bar for another hour,” Mr. Hess said.
Finally, they are still bummed out that one of their Michelle Rhee/Joel Klein types, didn’t get tapped for the Sec. of Ed job.
Problem is—they lost. Pass them the hanky.
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