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Obama presses Congress on education, orders new Head Start rules

November 08, 2011|By Christi Parsons
  • President Obama visits a classroom at the Yeadon Regional Head Start Center in Yeadon, Pa., near Philadelphia.
President Obama visits a classroom at the Yeadon Regional Head Start Center… (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)

Reporting from Philadelphia — President Obama continued his "we can't wait" campaign against Congress on Tuesday morning, this time targeting lawmakers' failure to act on education issues by issuing executive changes governing the Head Start program.

After touring classrooms at a Head Start center near Philadelphia, Obama said he is ordering regular evaluations of the early childhood education program against a set of "clear, high standards."

"After trying for months to work with Congress on education, we've decided to take matters into our own hands," Obama said. "Our future is at stake. Our children deserve action, and we can't wait for Congress any longer."

Of course, Obama's bigger gripe is that Congress won’t pass his plan to spend money to hire back teachers and prevent layoffs -- or, for that matter, the rest of the $447-billion job-creation plan that he calls the American Jobs Act.

His strategy lately is to take small steps he can order by his own authority, like the Head Start rules, and use the announcement to call out lawmakers on the broader issue at stake.

On Monday, Obama stood with military veterans to showcase his plans for helping veterans get jobs. Today the issue is schools.

Republicans say they are no more convinced of Obama's economic plans today than they were a week ago. They may yield on some particular points -- the tax credits for businesses that hire veterans seem to stand a chance -- but raising taxes isn’t part of their larger plan for spurring the economy.

Meantime, Obama clearly plans to make liberal use of his bully pulpit.

"Their argument is that we don't have the money," he told a crowd at the Yeadon Regional Head Start Center on Tuesday morning. "I've said we can make these investments in our kids without adding to the deficit, by asking people who make over a million dollars a year to pay just a little more in taxes."

"It's the right thing to do for our kids, and it’s the right thing to do for our country," he said. "But so far they've said no."

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