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Obama announces new Head Start accountability standards

President Barack Obama visits a classroom at Yeadon Regional Head Start Center in Yeadon, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

YEADON, Pa. - Making his fourteenth visit to Pennsylvania, a state indispensable to his bid for re-election, President Obama on Tuesday dropped by a Head Start program to announce new funding standards for preschool education.

Under existing rules, said Mr. Obama, "there just wasn't enough accountability."

"If a program wasn't providing kids with quality services, there was no incentive to improve," said Mr. Obama in remarks outside of Philadelphia.

Under the administration's new rule, Head Start programs will be evaluated on a regular basis "against a set of clear high standards."

Mr. Obama believes the majority of Head Start programs will meet those standards and their federal grants will be renewed.

But for those programs that don't provide children the support and educational preparations they need, other organizations will be able to compete for the federal funding.

"We're not just gonna put money into programs that don't work," said the president. "We will take money and put them into organizations that do."

He said this is the "first time in history," that Head Start programs will be truly held accountable for performance in the classroom.

The new Head Start standard is the latest action Mr. Obama is taking under what he calls his "We Can't Wait" initiative.

It's intended to draw public attention to the failure of Congress to enact many of the jobs bill provisions he submitted to Congress on September 8.

"The Republicans in Washington have been trying to gut our investments in education," Mr. Obama said today, clearly laying blame at the feet of GOP members.

He said "we can't wait" to make sure schools give every child the chance to compete with young people from around the world.

Until Congress acts, Mr. Obama is taking action that does not require further Congressional approval.

Our CBS News tally shows today's Head Start announcement is the 29th speech in 8 states and the District of Columbia that Mr. Obama has made since first announcing his jobs bill.

"Congress still needs to act," said the president. "But if Congress continues to stand only for dysfunction and delay, then I'm going to move ahead without them."

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