Friday, April 22, 2011

President Obama is DFER's Ed Reformer of the Month

It's hard to believe, but the 2012 Presidential campaign has, for all intents and purposes, already begun.  I will be supporting President Obama again.  Yes, he's made some mistakes and I sometimes wish he'd fight harder for certain principles I know he believes in, but I think 90% of what people criticize him for isn't his fault.  The best analogy I can give is a bridge player who's dealt terrible cards and then has to choose the least-bad card to play each time, with his mortal enemies screaming "You bum!" at him every time he's forced to play a bad card.  


Take the economy: it was in a state of complete collapse when he was elected, yet today, 2 ½ years later, it's recovering nicely.  I never would have believed it, given that there was utter panic in the markets and we were on the verge of another Great Depression.  Obama deserves tremendous credit for getting the big calls right: he engineered a big government stimulus/liquidity injection (to be fair, Bush deserves credit for initiating this), he intervened to help the automakers get back on their feet, yet didn't nationalize the banks (those who accuse him of being a socialist have yet to explain that one).  Yes, under- and unemployment remain a big problem and he should have been much tougher on the banks/Wall St., but I think it's a minor miracle that we are where we are today.


And on education, my big issue, President Obama been exceptional.  He appointed and has fully supported a true reformer, Arne Duncan, as Secretary of Education, and backed a revolutionary program, Race to the Top, a competitive distribution of nearly $5 billion of federal education funding.  For this reason, Democrats for Education Reform has made him Ed Reformer of the Month (and "he's really more like the education reformer of the decade.").  I just donated $2,500 to his reelection campaign and hope that if you choose to donate as well, you'll do so via the DFER web page at  Here's a letter from DFER's Joe Williams:


Dear Friends,


OK, he's really more like the education reformer of the decade. But after the 2009 stimulus yielded the largest federal education investment in history, sparking unprecedented state and local reforms, and on the heels of a tough budget fight in which he managed to protect key education reform initiatives, who but President Obama could be April's Ed Reformer of the Month?


The recent deal cut billions from the federal budget but the administration doubled down on their signature program, Race to the Top (RTTT). During 2010, 47 states applied for RTTT funding, affecting dramatic reforms throughout the country. That the President fought for $700 million to continue the program speaks volumes about his priorities.


It's pretty surreal because, a few years ago, electing a reform-minded president seemed like a long shot. Successfully agitating for a reformer like Arne Duncan to be named education secretary was unprecedented. And any kind of competitive distribution of federal education funding was a total pipedream.


Yet RTTT has already eclipsed the total collective discretionary funds available to all prior education secretaries. Implementation hasn't been perfect but it's still pretty impressive.


We don't always agree with the administration on education policy. Sometimes they yield too much ground to the status quo, like in recent comments by both the President and Secretary Duncan on the overhaul of No Child Left Behind. All the more reason to buck them up and demonstrate how much we support their education reform efforts.


It's time to saddle up. Right now is, in many ways, the best time to give. By showing up early for his campaign, we can show the President that we appreciate his priorities. Having a lot of donors is just as important as a lot of money (probably more important), so please go to and give whatever you can.


Thanks again,





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5:39 PM  

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