President Obama’s recent State of the Union address featured education as a prominent topic. Obama, like many presidents before him, recognizes the importance of a strongly educated workforce. But will his ideas lead to higher quality education?
In his speech, he touted the competitive nature of his educational plan for our nation. His program involves “rewarding success” rather than “failure.” As part of that, incentives for higher performing schools and teachers are now filtering throughout the country’s schools.
Obama also noted that the goal of school reform under his administration is to inspire “students to excel in math and science.” As has been noted before, our nation’s students are particularly lagging when it comes to these subjects; and, in a world where we rely on technology more than ever, that could be detrimental.
The president wants to expand his national competition between schools to all 50 states. The strategy here models itself somewhat on a free market concept of education. That is to say that if schools are free to compete for better resources based on their performance, they will be more likely to excel. This is in contrast to the notion that resources should be focused primarily on schools that are underperforming in order to help them improve.
The State of the Union speech talks about improving K-12 education, but the president also pointed out that a high school diploma isn’t what it used to be. For a student to really thrive as an adult, a higher education is necessary. Towards that end, Obama talked about reforms aimed at the college system. He mentions getting rid of subsidies given to banks that make student loans, and instead using that money as tax credits for students trying to go to college. He also recommended we reform the system to allow one million students to pay back only 10 percent of their income on student loans. And after 20 years, he says, loans should be forgiven; ten years if a student goes into public service out of college.
Obama says that nobody should go broke going to college. Indeed, starting off one’s career thousands of dollars in debt isn’t the surest path to success.
To read some of the text of President Obama’s State of the Union speech, go here.