Early on in their education, teachers tell students that it's wrong to break your promises. Well, it seems that House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey never learned that lesson. And in a brutal twist, he's breaking a promise made to our nation's children. In a stealthy bit of last-minute legislation, Obey proposed an amendment to fund "Edujobs" legislation by hacking away at the budgets of three vital education reform efforts. These efforts -- Race to the Top, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and the Public Charter Schools Program -- represent long-standing promises to help fund real change in schools. Over the past year, the Obama Administration's initiatives have breathed life into school-improvement efforts across the country. Now, instead of promising to implement true reform, the chairman proposes to spend that money on preserving the status quo. If Obey is able to muscle in this legislation, the consequences will be dire. For instance, without proper funding for Race to the Top, fewer state lawmakers will have the political leverage to pass breakthrough reforms like the ones recently enacted in places like New York, Louisiana, Illinois, Colorado and California. Obey's bill will deflate these programs' potential to inspire true reform at the state and local level. Yanking any of this crucial funding will represent a giant step backward in the effort to implement meaningful change in our nation's public schools. Worse, he is fiercely resisting pressure to assure that districts receiving Edujobs money stop laying off teachers by seniority alone, a devastating practice that is depriving school districts around the country of strong, sometimes award-winning, teachers with three or four years of experience, while even the most ineffective 15-year veterans keep their jobs.
We've made real progress for our children, particularly those who need it the most. As a country, we need to go faster, not slower, if we are to realize America's promise to ensure that every student -- regardless of skin color or Zip code -- leaves high school with a top-notch education. Breaking this promise, as Obey proposes, would be more than unfair. It would be cruel. And that's a lesson no student should have to learn.