Barack Obama’s Views on Education

A.C.Rieke
 Obama Views

Obama Views

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Barack Obama wants to make it very clear where he stands on educational issues, which might explain the 17+ pages that his website offers to outline his views and goals. Obama’s website goes into great detail about actual plans—including funding explanations—that are based on statistics and research.

Early Childhood Education

Obama’s passion for education revolves mainly around early education—really­ early education that begins at birth. He has developed a Zero to Fiveplan that would help both children and their parents by investing $10 billion to do the following:

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  • Create Early Learning Challenge Grants
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  • Increase Early Head Start and Head Start programs
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  • Make sure all children are able to attend preschool
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  • Create a Presidential Early Learning Council to reach across federal, state, and local levels
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  • Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
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  • Increase funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant Program to help low-income families afford child care and to set higher standards for child caregivers

K-12 Education

Obama firmly believes that No Child Left Behind, while having a reputable goal, has been a failure. In order to improve America’s educational system, Obama plans to do the following:

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  • Supply $200 million in grants to help schools provide additional learning time (outside normal school hours) for students who need it
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  • Reduce dropout rates by developing programs that identify and help students most at-risk of dropping out (with a focus on grades 5-8)
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  • Support pay and time for teachers to collaborate and develop curriculum together, combining their experiences and creating better teaching environments
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  • Expand summer learning programs, such as the STEP UP plan for disadvantaged students
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  • Support college outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO, and Upward Bound, which promote college to young people who may not otherwise consider it
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  • Keep schools safer by promoting “Positive Behavior Support” programs using No Child Left Behind funds

Teachers

Since teachers are the most important component of a successful education, Obama believes we need to properly “recruit, prepare, retain, and reward” our teachers. To do this, Obama plans to:

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  • Expand Teaching Service Scholarships to train high-quality teachers who agree to teach in a high-demand location or field (specifically math and science)
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  • Require all education programs to be accredited, similar to many other professional programs
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  • Reform current certification processes to evaluate potential teachers’ actual teaching abilities, rather than just their knowledge of basic skills
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  • Provide $100 million to create Professional Development Schools, which, much like “teaching hospitals,” would train teachers onsite in a classroom
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  • Offer $1 billion to create mentoring programs to help new teachers stay in the field
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  • Create a Career Ladder Incentive for veteran teachers to receive higher compensation by mentoring beginning teachers

Higher Education

Obama believes that everyone should have access to higher education. To increase college enrollment, Obama would make college more attainable and affordable by:

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  • Making the financial aid process super easy by eliminating the FAFSA altogether and simply using tax information to evaluate students’ eligibility
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  • Creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit to offer the first $4000 of college tuition to be covered
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  • Offering $25 million for states to create Early Assessment Programs to prepare high school students for college
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  • Increasing the Pell Grant to $5,400 by 2012
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  • Creating a Community College Partnership Program to offer grants to community colleges for improving and expanding their programs
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  • Getting rid of the private loan programs to save taxpayers money

Funding

Obama has a lot of numbers in his plans, but he also knows we can’t solve problems simply by increasing funding. Money has to be put towards real solutions and programs that work. While his educational plans will cost about $18 billion, he states where this money will come from in the last paragraph of his Plan for Lifetime Success Through Education—the savings from his plan to cut wasteful spending (basically by reducing earmarks and reforming erroneous federal spending).

“Investing in what works”

By learning from programs that have worked in certain states, and by analyzing research and statistics, Obama has come up with a detailed plan of action to reform education. Obama’s plans also support further educational research in order to measure effectiveness of new programs and adjust for the future. This quote from his Plan for Lifetime Success Through Educationexplains the importance of research:

“We currently make inadequate investments into researching and developing better educational tools and methods. While we spend roughly $400 billion annually in this country on public education, we spend less than seven tenths of one percent of that—$260 million—figuring out what actually works. By comparison, the Department of Defense spends roughly ten percent of its annual budget on research and development. And the National Institute for Health spends roughly 100 times the amount we spend on educational [research and development]. Those investments are what give America the most advanced military and medical systems in the world.”

So, if we invest more in educational research, research shows we’d have a better educational system, no?