|President Barack Obama waves after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, March 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)|
MIAMI (AP) — Bridging partisan divides, President Barack Obama arrived in Miami Friday and shook hands with the state's ardently conservative governor, Rick Scott, who just rejected billions in federal dollars for the president's cherished high-speed rail initiative.
From there Obama was heading to an education event and another odd-couple political pairing, appearing with Jeb Bush, Florida's popular GOP ex-governor and brother of the former president whose policies Obama blames for sending the nation into a recession.
Later Friday Obama and Bush were to speak at Miami Central Senior High School, one of hundreds of low-performing schools across the nation that have received money from the Education Department aimed at bringing turnarounds. Obama aides said Bush recommended the school as an example of how gains can be made through reform.
"Education and education reform are not Democratic issues, not Republican issues," presidential spokesman Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president en route to Florida.
|President Barack Obama, accompanied by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, speaks at Miami Central Senior High School in Miami, Friday, March. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Steve Mitchell)|
Obama's bipartisan overture comes as the president and Democrats are in the midst of partisan warfare with Republicans over budget cuts. Obama said he will need at least some GOP support if he's to resolve that divide and pass any substantial legislation, including education reform, in the second half of his term.
One of his education imperatives this year is to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, a signature initiative of former President George W. Bush.
Education is an area where Obama and Jeb Bush agree. Both support increasing the number of charter schools, tying teacher evaluations to student performance on standardized tests, and setting high standards and accountability. They also believe education is key to invigorating U.S. competitiveness.
Obama has called for fresh spending on education in the 2012 budget he unveiled last month, saying that improving America's schools isn't an area where the government can cut back, even as Congress looks for ways to reduce spending and bring down the nation's mounting deficit.
|President Barack Obama points as tours classrooms at Miami Central Senior High School with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, left, and Education SecretaryArne Duncan, right, Friday, March, 4, 2011, in Miami, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais|
The federal government has spent about $800,000 on Central Senior High School to help its efforts to turn itself around.
"America can no longer afford a collective shrug when disadvantaged students are trapped in inferior schools and cheated of a quality education for years on end," Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in an opinion piece in the Miami Herald that previewed Friday's trip.