WASHINGTON — Eager to show some bipartisanship, President Barack Obama is sharing a stage in Florida with Jeb Bush, brother of the former president whose policies Obama blames for sending the nation's economy spiraling into a recession.
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Obama and Bush, Florida's popular ex-governor, were to speak Friday at Miami Central Senior High School, one of hundreds of low-performing schools across the nation that have received money from the Education Department to help turn the school around.
Obama aides said Bush recommended the school as an example of how gains can be made through reform.Story: Obama, Calderon pledge cooperation on drug wars
Obama's bipartisan overture comes as the White House works through the realities of divided government following the Republican takeover of the House in the November elections. The president will need at least some GOP support if he's to pass any substantial legislation, including education reform, in the second half of his term.Video: Is the government doing too much or too little? (on this page)
Rewriting No Child Left Behind
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.
Obama constantly assailed the president during his own 2008 campaign and often refers to Bush's eight years in office as a period of decline for middle-class Americans.
That frequent criticism didn't sit well with Jeb Bush.
In an interview last year, he said Obama's tendency to blame his brother's administration for problems, including the economic crisis, was "childish."
"He apparently likes to act like he's still campaigning, and he likes to blame George's administration for everything," he said at the time.
Education, however, 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.
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.
Despite sharing the spotlight with a Republican early in the day, Obama will wrap up his trip to Miami on a clearly partisan note. He'll headline two fundraisers for Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
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