Obama’s Educational Successes and Failures Examined

A Presidential election year is a good opportunity to take stock of everything the current administration has done right and wrong during the previous four years, so it is not surprise that President Obama’s educational policies are now receiving scrutiny. Suzi Parker, writing for takepart.com, takes a look at the sum total of President’s academic policy decisions and compares the to the goals Obama set for himself while he was still campaigning for the job in 2008.

According to political fact checkers, Obama has kept many of his education policy promises—for example, rebuilding schools in New Orleans and increasing research and educational funding for land-grant colleges—which is especially notable considering the gridlock in Congress. Many of the projects he talked about during the 2008 campaign, such as improving high school graduation rates and creating a community college partnership program, are currently in the works.

Counted among his successes is the introduction of No Child Left Behind waivers that aimed to excuse states from hitting the 2014 deadline to have all their students at grade level for reading and math in exchange for a concrete plan on how to reach that goal in the near future. Nearly two-thirds of the states have either been approved for a waiver or are awaiting a decision on their waiver application since the waivers were first introduced earlier this year.

The administration also shepherded along a legislation that removed federal subsidies to private student loan lenders to channel the freed up funds towards the Pell Grant program. In addition, Obama also put in a ten-year repayment limits on those meeting a certain criteria, and was instrumental in getting compromise on the student loan interest rate cuts through both chambers of Congress.

His other successes include:

– American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds. A recent study shows federal stimulus money curtailed the effects of the economic downturn on the K-12 education sector and created jobs.

– STEM Master Teacher Corps. Recently announced, the Obama administration plans to invest more than $8 billion to create an “elite corps” of science, technology, engineering and math teachers.

Unfortunately, his education policy failures are nearly as numerous. One of the biggest is his failure to deliver on his campaign promise to double federal funding for after-school programs. Instead, his 2013 budget proposal doesn’t include any increase in funding for the nearly 9,000 centers that serve nearly 1.5 million students. There was no concrete progress at all on the campaign promise called Children’s First Agenda, which promised full support for families for their children from the time of birth until age 5. This policy hasn’t seen any movement since the time the President came into office in 2009.