Redesign the Ship

July 1st, 2010

Category: News

Today, I would like to express strong opposition to Congressman David Obey’s amendment to pit education jobs against the needed reforms that are being catalyzed through Race to the Top (RTTT), the Teacher Incentive Fund, and innovation and improvement funds that support high-performing charter schools. This amendment to the War Supplemental Funding bill proposed yesterday by Rep. Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, would be a slide backward for the reform of our nation’s education system.

I understand the need for jobs, but this amendment would be a significant bait and switch for the 35 states and DC that expended tremendous amounts of political capital and sweat equity to ensure their states were repositioned for the second round of RTTT. Moreover, the size of the investments relative to the overall education budgets of these states was relatively small to begin with, so if this investment is going to retain its power for change, it can’t be watered down.

Regardless of party, I believe the majority of Republicans and Democrats will recognize that the RTTT initiative has inspired dozens of states to move on politically tough issues that would not have moved for years, if at all, without this catalyst. If the Obey Amendment is passed we will not only be breaking faith with the broad-based public and private partnerships across this nation committed to reform, we will significantly reduce the chances that these breakthrough reforms will reach critical mass. A handful of states can’t move this nation, we need to get to a tipping point.

Mr. Obey reportedly said, ‘When a ship is sinking, you don’t worry about redesigning a room, you worry about keeping it afloat.” Unfortunately, his analogy doesn’t quite hold water. We are sinking, but we are not just trying to “redesign a room” we are collectively trying to redesign the boat. Failing to recognize this will only accelerate our nation’s race to the bottom.

For more coverage on the Obey Amendment, check out these articles:


Paul Herdman



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