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Obama urges GOP to focus on education ahead of budget proposals

By Amy R. Connolly
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with the Council of the Great City Schools Leadership in the Roosevelt Room of the White House March 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss efforts to strengthen educational opportunities for students in city schools. Photo by Olivier Douliery/UPI.
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with the Council of the Great City Schools Leadership in the Roosevelt Room of the White House March 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss efforts to strengthen educational opportunities for students in city schools. Photo by Olivier Douliery/UPI. | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama warned of a battle with the Republican-led Congress if lawmakers do not focus on educational funding for the country's neediest children and education priorities.

As House and Senate Republicans complete their budget blueprint this week, Obama said if funding remains at the current sequester levels, the federal government will be spending less on pre-K through 12th grade education than in 2000.

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"And that's adjusting for inflation," he said following a meeting with a group of urban school leaders. "The notion that we would be going backwards instead of forwards in how we're devoting resources to educating our kids makes absolutely no sense.

Speaking to the Council of the Great City Schools, Obama said if Republicans do not make their focus education, "then we're going to have to have a major debate. "

The group also discussed the pending revision to No Child Left Behind and the key sticking point to the revision -- how to allocate Title I funds, which provide additional funding to the nation's poorest students.

"Will we continue to want equity for all of our children and all of our schools, or will we turn back the clock so some children don't have as much?" said Barbara Jenkins, superintendent of Central Florida's Orange County Public School.

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On Wednesday, Obama is expected to travel to Cleveland, where he is scheduled to discuss his economic agenda.

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