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Revised "edujobs" bill would send city $200 million for teachers

A federal teacher jobs bill would send New York City schools $200 million, but could also chip away at federal grant money the city hopes to win.

The so-called “edujobs” bill has become the center of a politically charged debate. On one side are supporters of the Obama administration’s reform efforts and on the other are those who argue that saving teacher jobs is worth slowing the pace of change. The bill, headed for the Senate after passing the House last week, would send a total of about $622 million to New York State.

After a previous attempt to save teacher jobs foundered, the bill’s sponsor, Wisconsin Representative David Obey introduced a new bill that would redirect about 10 percent of funding for Race to the Top into a $10 billion fund for teacher jobs. Federal teacher quality and new charter school programs also would be tapped for the jobs fund.

Obama has threatened to veto the measure if passed in its current form, raising the ire of the national teachers unions.

“It’s deeply disappointing that a Democratic administration would threaten to veto a jobs bill because paying for it would require a negligible cut from its new pet programs,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement when the House passed its version of the bill.

It’s not clear how the edujobs bill would actually affect how Race to the Top funds are distributed. The state could win as much as $700 million in Race to the Top funds, more than it stands to gain from the edujobs bill. But the Race to the Top funds can’t be spent on saving teacher jobs.

In New York, charter school leaders have begun lobbying Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer to oppose the edujobs bill. Neither senator attached their name to a letter signed by 13 other senators opposing cuts to the Obama administration programs.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to Washington with the heads of the city’s teachers and principals unions to lobby Congress last month to pass the original version of the bill. But he has been silent ever since Obey put Race to the Top funding at stake.

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