Political Notebook

Obama unveils funds to train teachers

January 7, 2010

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WASHINGTON - President Obama announced a $250 million initiative yesterday to train math and science teachers and help meet his goal of pushing America’s students from the middle to the top of the pack in those subjects in the next decade.

Obama also gave awards for excellence in teaching and mentoring to more than 100 educators - and joked about putting them to work.

“I’ve got two girls upstairs with math tests coming up; I figure that a little extra help from the best of the best couldn’t hurt,’’ Obama said at a ceremony in the White House East Room. “So you’re going to have assignments after this.’’

Obama said teacher quality is the most important single factor that influences whether students succeed or fail in science, technology, engineering, and math. But, he said, US students trail their peers around the world.

He said a substantial shortage of teachers in these subject areas will deepen unless steps are taken to reverse the trend, and that doing so requires outside help because the federal government cannot do it alone. Obama said the $250 million in public and private investments for his “Educate to Innovate’’ campaign will help train more than 100,000 teachers and prepare more than 10,000 new educators in the next five years. -- ASSOCIATED PRESS

New leader named for EMILY’s List
WASHINGTON - The founder of the political advocacy organization EMILY’s List, the powerhouse that has propelled hundreds of progressive women candidates into office, is retiring as its president and will be replaced by a veteran Senate staffer and Democratic operative, officials said yesterday.

Ellen Malcolm will continue to be involved as chairwoman of the board of EMILY’s List, but she will hand over day-to-day management of the vast network of political donors and activists and its political strategy operations to the new president, Stephanie Schriock. The 25-year-old group raised $43 million in the 2008 campaign cycle from its more than 100,000 members.

“The US House is a very different place today than it was when we began. The world has changed,’’ said Malcolm, 62.

The appointment of Schriock, 36, signals a generational change for EMILY’s List, which was founded by someone who emerged from the women’s movement fighting for equal representation for women in politics. The organization now will be led by a woman who grew up believing every door was open to her.

“People like Ellen Malcolm have fought a battle so that I can be successful,’’ Schriock said in an interview. “But I realized, you know what? It’s my turn.’’

Currently chief of staff to Senator Jon Tester of Montana, Schriock has been hailed as a rising star in Democratic circles, having managed back-to-back campaigns that knocked off incumbent Republican senators. She ran Tester’s 2006 campaign and then managed Al Franken’s 2008 campaign in Minnesota. Schriock also worked as finance director for the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor. -- WASHINGTON POST