Week 2: Saving jobs vs. saving education reform

Have a look at Eliza Krigman’s National Journal tally of expert opinion on the controversy surrounding Rep. Obey’s war bill amendment. You know, the one that proposes cutting $500 million from Race to the Top, $100 million from the federal charter schools program and $200 million from the Teacher Incentive Fund. The debate is heated, despite the fact the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate — and, should it reach his desk, President Obama has vowed to veto it.

Meanwhile, Education Week‘s Michele McNeil writes that “depending on which state you live in, the edujobs bill may not be such a good deal — especially if your state might win a Race to the Top grant.” Might is the operative word here.  She cites a handful of state-by-state considerations, including “Louisiana, which placed 11th in Round 1. The state could win up to $175 million in Race to the Top versus $147 million under edujobs.” So take your pick: ed reform or 2,222 teaching jobs saved and/or created, according to Michael Griffith’s calculations at the Education Commission of the States.

Or is this not an either/or proposition? Must we sacrifice reform to save jobs? Must we sacrifice jobs to save reform?

Race to the Top is money that comes with strings attached. But would any such strings be attached to the proposed $10 billion “edujobs” bill? Or will states essentially be free to spend the money as they see fit?

Should the legislation pass? If so, what accountability measures should be included?

Susan Sawyers