The Iowa caucuses are the first big test of the nominating process, but the 2012 caucuses will also provide the first big test in a presidential contest for the Tea Party, which was formed during President Obama's first year in office.
The Iowa caucuses are now less than eight months away, and the field of Republican candidates is still taking shape, but the Iowa Tea Party has begun its own campaign, in the form of a three-week-long bus tour across the state.
President Obama and the first lady attended a total of six fundraising events last week, half of them small gatherings with top-dollar donors. They also got a reminder of what comes with reliance on high rollers: An unflattering analysis of how many big givers in 2008 wound up with jobs in the administration.
Nine months ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a $100 million gift to improve public schools in Newark, N.J. The plan to spend the money is now taking shape, and a new superintendent is coming on board to lead the effort.
But in New Jersey, initial jubilation over the gift has turned into protests, suspicion and a belief that students will never benefit from the money.
In a recent nationwide test, only 20% of 4th graders tested 'proficient' in history. (GETTY IMAGES)
"The test called upon the students to identify at least two of the contributions to the political, economic, or social developments of the United States by such famous Americans as Lincoln, Jefferson, Jackson, and Theodore Roosevelt," an article in The New York Times reports. "Only 22 percent of American students had mastered enough history in their high school days to identify two contributions made by Lincoln to this country."