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Kay Steiger

Kay Steiger is an associate editor at Talking Points Memo. She formerly worked at Raw Story, Washingtonian magazine, the Center for American Progress and The American Prospect. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, the Guardian, Jezebel, AlterNet and others. She graduated from the University of Minnesota. Contact her at kay@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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The Republican Study Committee saw its mission as pushing the GOP even further to the right, but this week Executive Director Paul Teller was fired. Read more about him and how his firing represents the fight for the soul of the Republican party.

One observer said: "Maybe that's the concern from the leadership; that he's too effective."

Diane Ravitch: "For the past dozen years, ill-advised federal policies have rained down on students, teachers, principals and schools."

We're hosting a TPM Prime (sub. req.) live chat with Ravitch tomorrow at noon ET. Also joining us: Rachael Brown, manager of teacher retention and recognition for District of Columbia Public Schools, and Chad Alderman, associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners. Should be a good discussion.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) praised Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) on the bipartisan agreement they announced Tuesday evening, saying that "this type of deal takes courage and resolve."

Read the full statement below:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today praised the House and Senate Conference Committee on the Budget for coming to an agreement on topline spending levels for fiscal year 2014 and 2015. The agreement will allow work to begin on legislation to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year.

“Chairs Ryan and Murray should be commended on their agreement. This type of deal takes courage and resolve, and they have done their very best to find common ground. Not only does this deal hold the line on spending, it actually puts a dent in our annual deficit – a significant accomplishment. Plus, it opens the door for future progress on the problem of runaway entitlements, and paves the way toward budget and economic stability for the next two years,” Chairman Rogers said.

“In addition, this budget conference agreement will now allow bicameral negotiations on Appropriations bills to begin. These Appropriations bills will provide the discretionary funding needed to keep the government operating – thus avoiding another potential government shutdown and more piecemeal, stopgap spending measures,” Chairman Rogers continued.

The Budget Conference agreement sets the fiscal year 2014 discretionary spending limit at $1.012 trillion, approximately $45 billion above the current level of $986 billion. The agreement will also “turn off” the next round of budget cuts caused by sequestration, which would have resulted in a more than $20 billion cut to the Defense Department. The budget agreement not only fully offsets these increases, it includes even more savings for the taxpayer.

The Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate will now begin negotiations on a final fiscal year 2014 legislative package. The current deadline for the completion of these negotiations is January 15, when the current Continuing Resolution expires.

“The agreement provides some certainty for the annual Appropriations process, allowing my Committee to get to work and make the hard, thoughtful, responsible, line-by-line funding decisions that are Congress’s duty to make,” Chairman Rogers said. “We have a huge challenge ahead of us – we must craft legislation funding the entirety of the federal government in just one month. However, I know my colleagues on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are up to the task, and I’m optimistic that we can reach a mutually acceptable deal in a timely fashion.” “The agreement provides some certainty for the annual Appropriations process, allowing my Committee to get to work and make the hard, thoughtful, responsible, line-by-line funding decisions that are Congress’s duty to make,” Chairman Rogers said. “We have a huge challenge ahead of us – we must craft legislation funding the entirety of the federal government in just one month. However, I know my colleagues on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are up to the task, and I’m optimistic that we can reach a mutually acceptable deal in a timely fashion.”

Today at TPM Cafe Reign of Error author Diane Ravitch has some harsh words for the legacy of former D.C. School Chancellor Michelle Rhee: "Many states and the federal government have invested hundreds of millions of dollars—perhaps even billions—on various incentive programs, hoping that teachers will work harder or better if they are promised a bonus or threatened with a loss of their job. But these incentive programs have failed again and again."

We're pleased to host a live author chat with Ravitch, as well as some other education policy folks on Friday at noon ET (TPM Prime sub. req.).

Today at TPM Cafe's Book Club, Diane Ravitch makes the case against the modern education reform movement, as argued in her book Reign of Error:

In the early years of the twenty-first century, a bipartisan consensus arose about educational policy in the United States. Right and left, Democrats and Republicans, the leading members of our political class and our media elite seemed to agree: Public education is broken. Our students are not learning enough. Public schools are bad and getting worse. ... There is only one problem with this narrative. It is wrong.

Today at TPM Cafe Book Club: An excerpt from David Folkenflik's Murdoch's World talks about how Rupert Murdoch wanted the Wall Street Journal to be the crown jewel of his media empire. "And yet Murdoch did not much like the Journal itself," Folkenflik writes.

Don't forget, we have a chat with Folkenflik tomorrow at noon.

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