Students in Heather Watgen’s fifth-grade class at Cordley School have plenty of questions for President Barack Obama:
• “How hard is it to be the president?”
• “Can you raise more money for animal shelters?”
• “What was Obama’s favorite subject in school?”
But as Alexa Posny dutifully collected the queries, with intentions to ask the president upon her return to Washington, D.C., Obama’s assistant secretary of education for special education and rehabilitative services didn’t have the answer for an unasked question that would be of particular interest to the students and others in the Lawrence school district: Will the president’s jobs bill — and its estimated $1.59 million for building upgrades in Lawrence, possibly for such schools as Cordley, 1837 Vt. — ever become law?
“That’s what we continue to work toward,” Posny said Friday afternoon, during a visit with administrators, teachers, staffers and parents at Cordley, 1837 Vt. “We absolutely believe that this is a great way not only to turn around the economy, but also help in terms of education and all the top agenda items that the president has — and education and the economy, those are now No. 1 and 2.”
The portion of the bill that would pump billions of dollars into building-modernization efforts — including $191 million in Kansas — failed to pass the U.S. Senate on Thursday, but work continues, Posny said.
“It doesn’t mean we give up.”
Posny is a former part-time professor at Kansas University who worked in the Kansas State Department of Education, including five years as a deputy commissioner and two years as the state’s education commissioner. She joined the Obama administration in October 2009.
While Posny lives in Washington, on Pennsylvania Avenue — “Southeast,” she emphasizes — she still maintains a residence in Lawrence, near Quail Run School, 1130 Inverness Drive.