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While the NAACP is still reeling over the public embarrassment it suffered in the wake of the Shirley Sherrod incident, The National Urban League is hosting its centennial conference in Washington, D.C., somewhat under the radar. That should end once President Barack Obama takes the stage on Thursday night.

Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are among the high-powered speakers addressing the conference this week. Duncan, who announced the 19 finalists in the administration’s Race To The Top education initiative yesterday, will most likely talk about efforts to improve the quality of public education. But of course, it’s the Obama speech that is likely to garner international attention in the wake of pundit pandemonium and blog chatter about the Shirley Sherrod debacle. (Not to mention the verbose Sherrod herself, who has made the rounds of live TV.)

Initially scheduled to address education reform, which would include more about the Race to the Top program, Obama may or may not stick to the script. The Race To the Top initiative, among others, is part of the administration’s plan to reform public education in America in lieu of the ineffectual No Child Left Behind program under President Bush. To no one’s surprise, this new plan has attracted conservative ire.

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