From: Geoff Earle [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2015 12:27 PM
To: Velz, Peter; Barnes, Desiree N.
Subject: Pool report no. 1, March 16, 2015
Obama spoke in general terms about education reform, not making much news, and didn’t answer a shouted question about Iran.
Event was in the Roosevelt room. Members of the Council of Great City School group were gathered around the table. Obama was seated next to Arne Duncan (who had his coat off) and Cecilia Munoz (in a pink jacket).
Pool couldn’t see many school heads, but seating chart had him seated across from the group’s ED, Mike Casserly, and DC’s own schools chief Kaya Henderson.
Obama had ample time to answer a question when he was through speaking, but after a pause just offered a “Thank you guys.”
Pls check transcript for full quotes.
Obama, wearing a blue striped tie, said it was a “terrific” conversation about some of the “extraordinary progress” being made at the local level. He had paper in front of him but spoke without notes.
He cited some “good news,” which he called “a consequence” of reforms we’ve initiated” -- reading and math scores up, graduation rates, etc.
“This organization has taken on the challenge,” he said. “This is a monumental task.”
“All that is dependent on a budget and an approach at the federal level that says, ‘We care about all kids and not just some.’”
Then he went after the GOP budgets emerging in Congress.
“My hope is that their budget reflects the priorities of educating every child.”
“We are making too much progress here … for us to be going backwards now.”
He said if the budget maintains sequester-level funding, “Then we would actually be spending less on pre-K to 12th grade … than we were back in 2000, and that’s adjusting for inflation.”
On reauthorization of education legislation, he said “useful conversations” were taking place between Sens. Alexander and Murray.
Then he laid out some priorities:
-- Resources to the poorest school districts, without education aid that “suddenly” starts going to sports stadiums or tax cuts at the state level.
-- Making sure “that we continue to focus on low-performing schools.”
-- Assess “in a smart way on an annual basis” how young people are performing
-- “Making sure that we’ve got high standards and high expectations for all of our kids.”
-- Investing in special education and English learning
Pointing to those principles, he warned: “I hope [they] will be reflected in the Republican budget. But if it is not we’re going to have to have a major debate.”
Then he pointed out progress in big city districts like DC, Fresno, and Cleveland, where he visits tomorrow.
“These are school districts that, despite enormous challenges, have made real progress.”
The White House provides the following background:
Today, the President met with a group of superintendents and leaders of the Council of the Great City Schools to discuss their efforts to strengthen educational opportunities for students in city schools. This meeting was an opportunity for the President to discuss the successes these school leaders have seen and challenges they face in providing a quality education to prepare students for the jobs of the future. The Administration’s investments in education are paying off and today the Department of Education is releasing new data showing that high school graduation rates for African-American students, American Indian students, Hispanic students, low income students, and students with limited English proficiency across the country have each increased by more than 3 percent over the last two years. Graduation rates overall have increased 2.4 percent over the past 2 years, to a record 81.4 percent.
· Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
· Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget
· Cecilia Muñoz, Director, White House Domestic Policy Council
Participants from the Council of the Great City Schools:
· Michael Casserly, Executive Director, Council of the Great City Schools
· Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Chair of the Board, Council of the Great City Schools, and Board Member, Oakland Unified School District
· Juan Cabrera, Superintendent, El Paso Independent School District, TX
· Richard Carranza, Superintendent, San Francisco Unified School District, CA
· Darienne Driver, Superintendent, Milwaukee Public Schools, WI
· Eric Gordon, Superintendent, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, OH
· Kaya Henderson, D.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction
· Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent, Orange County Public Schools, FL
· Valeria Silva, Superintendent, St. Paul, MN
· Michael Hanson, Superintendent, Fresno Unified School District, CA
· Airick West, School Board President, Kansas City Board of Education, MO
· Michael O’Neill, School Board Chair, Boston Public Schools, MA
-- end --