Education is this week's theme. Obama discussed his education plans at a Baltimore middle school on Monday. Before departing the White House on Thursday, he was discussing a rewrite of the primary federal education law, No Child Left Behind, with a bipartisan group of House and Senate members.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that the law is too restrictive and led to a "dumbing down" of standards. In an interview with The Associated Press, Duncan said the White House wants lawmakers to pass a revamped act by the August recess so new measures can be in place by the time students start the next school year.
Obama wants to spend $77.4 billion on education next year, up from $64.1 billion in 2010. Congress hasn't yet passed a budget for 2011, so the government is operating at the spending levels for 2010.
Some of the increased spending would fund competitive grant programs to encourage improvements in early learning programs and by school districts. Money would also go toward improving teacher quality and preparing thousands of new math and science teachers for the classroom.
Obama last visited California and Oregon during a four-state swing in October, when he stumped for California Sen. Barbara Boxer and Oregon gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber. Both Democrats won. He handily won California and Oregon in the 2008 presidential election.