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Schools to begin receiving economic stimulus money

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Now the Question is: Will Obama start telling the Schools What to Teach and How to Teach????????????




WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has released $44 billion, the first round of school dollars from the economic stimulus package.


Education Secretary Arne Duncan made the announcement Wednesday at Doswell Brooks Elementary School in the Maryland suburbs, just outside of Washington.


"It's critical the money go out quickly, but it's even more important this money be spent wisely," Duncan told a group of kids, teachers and state and local leaders in the school library.


The school has a big share of poor and special ed kids but has significantly boosted achievement over the past five years.


President Barack Obama says the stimulus law will save teachers' jobs, although there is no estimate of how many jobs will be rescued. Nationwide, about 294,000 teachers — 9 percent — may face layoffs because of state budget cuts.


At the same time, the administration wants to do more than preserve jobs. Obama wants to transform the federal government's role in education. His administration views the stimulus bill as a rare chance to put lasting reforms in place.


"This is a historic opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to lay the groundwork for a generation of education reforms," Duncan said.


The administration made available half of the dollars for federal programs that pay for kindergarten through 12th grade and special education. In addition, Duncan will provide applications for states to get money from a special fund to stabilize state and local budgets.


However, loopholes created by Congress could let states and school districts spend the money on other things, such as playground equipment or new construction.


Duncan said last week he will "come down like a ton of bricks" and withhold the second round of funds from anyone who defies Obama's wishes.


Meanwhile, the White House acknowledged it can't circumvent South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, who is refusing stimulus money because the Obama administration won't let him use it to pay down debt.


The White House said there is no provision in the stimulus law to help state lawmakers accept the money without the governor's approval.


"It would be an unfortunate (and we believe an unintended) policy outcome if the children of South Carolina were to be deprived of their share of federal stimulus dollars ... because the governor chooses not to apply for stimulus funds," White House budget director Peter Orszag wrote Tuesday in a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.


The letter was obtained by The Associated Press.


In their applications, states must show improvement in teacher quality, data systems, academic standards and tests and supporting struggling schools.


States and districts will also have a chance to compete for money from a $5 billion fund solely for these kinds of innovations.


Previous education secretaries had a fraction of that, about $16 million a year, to distribute for their own priorities.



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