By Eric Noh:
As the 2012 presidential elections are rapidly approaching, it is time for Americans to evaluate the educational policies outlined by President Barack Obama since taking office in 2008. It should be noted that Obama’s plan for education has been proven effective. Because his actions have been successful thus far, Obama should be seriously considered for reelection this coming fall.
Education in today’s world is more important than most people believe. An improvement in the quality of American education could potentially create a new era of prosperity for U.S. as a country. The United States could boost its average scores on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international standardized examination, by 25 points out of 600 total over the next 20 years. If the score averages rise, there could be a gain of approximately $41 trillion in the U.S. economy over the lifetime of those generation born in 2010, according to a study done by Stanford University. Obama’s policies have been improving American education through making college more affordable, increasing the quality of math and science education and making the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) more flexible.
Many American students have struggled with the affordability of college in recent years. Due to hard economic times in the United States, state governments are falling deeper and deeper in debt. Budget shortfalls have caused states to reduce funding for public colleges and universities while increasing the tuition for these institutions. For example, students attending schools in the University of California system could face yearly tuition increases of eight to 16 percent over the next four years. Due to these tuition hikes, students may no longer be able to afford the college education that they are qualified for.
[pullquote]Due to these tuition hikes, students may no longer be able to afford the college education that they are qualified for.[/pullquote]
Obama’s American Opportunity Tax Credit, which will be implemented later this year, will deduct $2,500 from college tuition on an annual basis. Considering that the average annual tuition of attending a four-year public institution in 2010 was approximately $7,020, the bill will make college more affordable for low-income families. In addition, President Obama has increased the maximum Pell Grant, an already existing federal grant assisting financially disadvantage undergraduate students, from $819 to $5550.
Another important aspect of American education is science and math. Eighty percent of the fastest growing occupations today require knowledge based in math and science. That being said, by twelfth grade, American students are frequently being out-performed in math and science by other countries around the world. Obama has recognized the importance of improving the quality of math, science and tech education to make the United States internationally competitive in the 21st century.
To achieve this, Obama’s Teaching Service Scholarship Program has specifically recruited people who hold science and math degrees for teacher positions. Also, Obama has recently outlined plans to invest $80 million solely on math and science education. The money would be invested on training 100,000 specialized math and science teachers. Aside from the proposed government funding, philanthropic organizations and privates companies have already committed $22 million to this cause.
Obama’s critics claim that the No Child Left Behind has encouraged states to lower standards and narrow down curricula in classrooms. However, in late 2011, Obama announced that his administration would introduce a flexibility plan to provide relief from NCLB. By implementing this flexibility plan, states will be able to request adaptability from specific mandates of the NCLB that are stifling reform, enabling a more efficient transition to a system with higher college and career-ready standards for all students. Some mandates of the NCLB should be inflexible; state governments should maintain a standard that can be achieved by all students, not just its brightest students.
By making colleges more affordable, investing in math and science education and loosening the grip of the NCLB Act, Obama has clearly made the right decisions regarding American education. To ensure the continuation of these improvements, President Obama should remain for another term.