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Obama enlists governors to raise the education bar

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[February 22, 2010]  WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama wants academic standards for America's high school students raised, and he's applauding a program from the nation's governors that works toward those goals.

InsuranceIn a statement issued Sunday, the White House said the initiative will develop and implement new reading and math standards that prepare high school students for college and careers. The governors will call on Obama on Monday, as they wrap up their National Governor's Association meeting, to discuss the blueprint to prepare students to stay competitive with their counterparts around the world.

"Because too many students are not learning the basic skills needed to succeed in college or work while they are in high school," the White House said in the statement, "the nation sacrifices more than $3.7 billion a year in lost productivity and remedial education costs."

The White House said the governors have been working on the president's Race to the Top program, which rewards school systems that raise standards and demonstrate that through tougher student assessments.

At the same time, the White House said that too many states are churning out graduates who are unprepared either for college or career.

The White House took a swipe at the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, declaring that "between 2005 and 2007, various states have lowered their standards in reading and math."

In addition to supporting ongoing state efforts, the White House said the president will commit an additional $350 million to the Race to the Top challenge to back "state-led partnerships to develop new, state-of-the art assessments aligned to college and career-ready standards."

According to the White House, the president's 2011 budget will call for the reauthorization of the 1994 version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which would require states to meet six tough standards to help high school graduates prepare for college or jobs. The White House said schools need to focus on better teacher preparation, improved teaching and tougher student assessments.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act was first passed in 1965 and has been routinely reauthorized every five years. Its last incarnation was former President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. Under the measure, federal money is sent to the states to pay for teacher development, instructional materials, educational resources and promotion of parental involvement.

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Obama's reauthorization would:

  • Require the states to "adopt and certify that they have college- and career-ready standards in reading and mathematics" to be eligible for the federal money.

  • Establish a $405 million outlay to help states "align teacher preparation practices and programs to teaching of college- and career-ready standards."

  • Provide grants totaling $400 million to states that adopt tougher student assessment programs.

  • Dedicate $1.35 billion to the Race to the Top program in addition to stimulus money for the program.

  • Allot $2.5 billion in the 2011 budget to a state grant program to support better teaching and leadership in the schools.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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