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by DFER Reformer of the Month

DFER's mission is to encourage a more productive dialogue within the Democratic Party on the need to fundamentally reform American public education. Each month, we identify one candidate who is standing up for meaningful reform and innovation, and we help demonstrate the broad base of support for his or her efforts. Please give as generously as you can.

April 2011: President Barack Obama

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?

President Obama

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 give whatever you can.

Image of Barack Obama

Barack Obama