Education, Fundraising on Tap for Boston-Bound Obama

By Jim Kuhnhenn | March 8, 2011 | 6:47 AM EST

Washington (AP) - President Barack Obama is talking education innovation with philanthropist Melinda Gates and pitching politics to Democratic Party donors in Boston, the latest venture beyond the nation's capital to promote his agenda and give his party a financial boost.

Obama on Tuesday will visit TechBoston Academy. The public school opened in 2002 with money from a foundation headed by Gates and her husband, Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp.

The president also plans to address a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser.

Eager to plug his agenda beyond the Washington Beltway, Obama has been traveling once a week to political battleground states to advocate for his policies. Last week he coupled an education event in Miami with a fundraiser for Democrats, making full use of his presidential power -- and Air Force One -- to blend a bit of policy with a bit of politics.

Obama is making school improvements a major theme of 2011, linking educational excellence to jobs and private-sector competitiveness. While House officials believe they can build on the bipartisan support for the No Child Left Behind policies of President George W. Bush. But Obama now faces a Republican Party focused on fiscal discipline and spending cuts.

The school visit is designed to draw attention to Obama's call for the creation of a federal agency designed to pursue breakthroughs in education technology. Obama requested $90 million for the agency's first year in the budget blueprint he sent to Congress last month.

TechBoston, a grades 6-12 pilot school within the Boston school district, represents the combined effort of government, businesses, philanthropists and communities. The school integrates technology in all its academic courses and relies on partnerships with a series of high-tech business partners, including Cisco Systems Inc., Microsoft, IBM Corp. and Google Inc.

"In these tough, tough fiscal times, we must innovate and we must do more with less," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a teleconference with reporters Monday.

The fundraising dinner later in the day will be held in Boston's newly remodeled Museum of Fine Arts. Tickets for the dinner start at $5,000 per person.

Obama is close to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who recently moved to increase his national profile by forming a federal political action committee to support Obama and the national Democratic Party.


Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.