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Barack Obama on Education

Democratic incumbent President; IL Senator (2004-2008)


Race to the Top for our youngest: pre-K available to all

[Starting] 5 years ago, "Race to the Top" has helped states raise expectations and performance. Some of this change is hard. But it's worth it--and it's working. The problem is we're still not reaching enough kids, and we're not reaching them in time. That has to change.

One of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education. Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old. 30 states have raised pre-K funding on their own. They know we can't wait. So just as we worked with states to reform our schools, this year, we'll invest in new partnerships with states and communities across the country in a Race to the Top for our youngest children. And as Congress decides what it's going to do, I'm going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need.

Source: 2014 State of the Union address , Jan 28, 2014

Re-equip high schools to train for jobs right now

[Our proposed] initiatives in manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, and housing will help entrepreneurs and small business owners expand and create new jobs. But none of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs.

Let's make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job. Right now, countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges, so that they're ready for a job.

Tonight, I'm announcing a new challenge to redesign America's high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. We'll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math--the skills today's employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future.

Source: 2013 State of the Union Address , Feb 12, 2013

We reformed schools in 46 states, with their governors

ROMNEY: We're going to have to have training programs that work for our workers and schools that finally put the parents and the teachers and the kids first, and the teachers union's going to have to go behind.

OBAMA: Let's take an example that we know is going to make a difference in the 21st century, and that's our education policy. Under my leadership, what we've done is reformed education, working with governors, 46 states. We've seen progress and gains in schools that were having a terrible time, and they're starting to finally make progress. And what I now want to do is to hire more teachers. Governor Romney, when you were asked by teachers whether or not this would help the economy grow, he said, "this isn't going to help the economy grow." When you were asked about reduced class sizes, you said class sizes don't make a difference. But I tell you, if you talk to teachers, they will tell you it does make a difference.

Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate , Oct 22, 2012

Recovery Act avoided layoffs; now hire more teachers

Q: The recent strike [in Chicago] of 29,000 teachers who left 350,000 students out of school could happen elsewhere: What is your plan to solve the present education crisis?

A: What happened in Chicago was of concern, and we're glad that it finally got resolved. But you're going to see school districts dealing with this issue because part of what has happened is a lot of teacher layoffs. Part of what the Recovery Act was all about--was to help states and local communities not lay off teachers. Unfortunately, though, we've still seen a lot of school districts lay off teachers. That has an impact on the students themselves because when you have larger classes, it's harder to provide the individualized attention on those kids, especially at the younger grades. And what we say to school districts all across the country is, we will provide you more help as long as you're being held accountable.

Source: Obama-Romney interviews by Univision Noticias (Spanish News) , Sep 19, 2012

100,000 new science & math teachers over the next decade

Q: What policies will best ensure that America remains a world leader in innovation?

A: [Besides federal R&D support], to prepare American children for a future in which they can be the highly skilled American workers and innovators of tomorrow, I have set the goal of preparing 100,000 science and math teachers over the next decade. These teachers will meet the urgent need to train one million additional science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates over the next decade.

Source: The Top American Science Questions, by sciencedebate.org , Sep 4, 2012

Educate to Innovate: new national STEM Master Teacher Corps

Q: What role should the federal government play to better prepare students of all ages for the science & technology-driven global economy?

A: An excellent education remains the clearest, surest route to the middle class. To compete with other countries we must strengthen STEM education. Early in my administration, I called for a national effort to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement. Last year, I announced an ambitious goal of preparing 100,000 additional STEM teachers over the next decade, with growing philanthropic and private sector support. My "Educate to Innovate" campaign is bringing together leading businesses, foundations, non-profits, and professional societies to improve STEM teaching and learning. Recently, I outlined a plan to launch a new national STEM Master Teacher Corps that will be established in 100 sites across the country and be expanded over the next four years to support 10,000 of the best STEM teachers in the nation.

Source: The Top American Science Questions, by sciencedebate.org , Sep 4, 2012

To make a difference for kids, become a teacher

President Obama [said in his] State of the Nation address: "Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom," said President Obama. "In South Korea, teachers are known as 'nation builders.' Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect."

A short time later Obama continued, "In fact, to every young person who's listening tonight contemplating their career choice: if you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child--become a teacher. Your country needs you."

Notice that Obama said "after parents." The President recognizes that parents and the home environment are THE most important cog in a child's education and THEN comes the teacher. That is directly opposite what Christie believes. The Governor believes that teachers are at least 50% responsible for a student's test scores.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p.199 , Feb 17, 2011

Educate to Innovate campaign: make US top in math & science

We've always been a positive, forward-looking people. A can-do attitude is part of our cultural DNA. And that mind-set is a prerequisite for turning things around.

President Obama captured this essential part of the American character when he announced the kickoff of his Educate to Innovate campaign--a nationwide effort to move American students back to the top in science and math education. "This nation wasn't built on greed," he said. "It wasn't built on reckless risk. It wasn't built on short-term gains and shortsighted policies. It was forged on stronger stuff, by bold men and women who dared to invent something new or improve something old--who took big chances on big ideas, who believed that in America all things are possible."

Source: Third World America, by Arianna Huffington, p.169-170 , Sep 2, 2010

Quitting high school is quitting on your country

In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity--it is a prerequisite. And yet, we have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish. This is a prescription for economic decline.

So tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country. That's why we will provide the support necessary for all young Americans to complete college and meet a new goal: By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Source: 2009 State of the Union address , Feb 24, 2009

Invest in early childhood education and higher education

Michelle and I are here only because we were given a chance at an education. I will not settle for an America where some kids don’t have that chance. I’ll invest in early childhood education. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, pay them higher salaries and give them more support. In exchange, I’ll ask for higher standards and more accountability. We’ll keep our promise to every young American--if you commit to serving your community and your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

Fight for social & economic justice begins in the classroom

We’ll make sure that every child in this country gets a world-class education from the day they’re born until the day they graduate from college. What McCain is offering amounts to little more than the same tired rhetoric about vouchers. We need to move beyond the same debate we’ve been having for the past 30 years when we haven’t gotten anything done. We need to fix & improve our public schools, not throw our hands up and walk away from them. We need to uphold the ideal of public education, but we also need reform. That’s why I’ve introduced a comprehensive strategy to recruit an army of new quality teachers to our communities--and to pay them more & give them more support. We’ll invest in early childhood education programs so that our kids don’t begin the race of life behind the starting line and offer a $4,000 tax credit to make college affordable for anyone who wants to go. Because as the NAACP knows better than anyone, the fight for social justice and economic justice begins in the classroom.
Source: McCain-Obama speeches at 99th NAACP Convention , Jul 12, 2008

Make math & science policy a national priority

Obama also has detailed plans to improve our nation's primary and secondary schools:
Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p. 61-62 , Jul 1, 2008

We need real commitment to education; instead we got NCLB

These past eight years will be remembered for misguided policies & missed opportunities. We still have no real strategy to compete in a global economy. Just think of what we could have done. We could have made a real commitment to a world-class education for our kids, but instead we passed “No Child Left Behind,” a law that--however well-intended--left the money behind and alienated teachers and principals instead of inspiring them.

I want to take us in a new and better direction. It’s time for new policies that create the jobs & opportunities of the future--a competitiveness agenda built upon education and energy, innovation and infrastructure, fair trade and reform.

This agenda starts with education. A highly-educated and skilled workforce will be the key not only to individual opportunity, but to the overall success of our economy as well. We cannot be satisfied until every child in America--and I mean every child--has the same chances for a good education that we want for our own children.

Source: Speech in Flint, MI, in Change We Can Believe In, p.246-7 , Jun 15, 2008

$10 billion to guarantee early childhood education for all

Senator McCain doesn’t talk about education much. But I don’t accept the status quo. It is morally unacceptable and economically untenable. It’s time to make an historic commitment to education? a real commitment that will require new resources and new reforms.

We can start by investing $10 billion to guarantee access to quality, affordable, early childhood education for every child in America. Every dollar that we spend on these programs puts our children on a path to success, while saving us as much as $10 in reduced health care costs, crime, and welfare later on.

We can fix the failures of No Child Left Behind, while focusing on accountability. That means providing the funding that was promised. More importantly, it means reaching high standards, but not by relying on a single, high stakes standardized test that distorts how teachers teach. Instead, we need to work with governors, educators and especially teachers to develop better assessment tools.

Source: Speech in Flint, MI, in Change We Can Believe In, p.249 , Jun 15, 2008

Evolution & science aren’t incompatible with Christian faith

Q: If one of your daughters asked you, “Daddy, did God really create the world in 6 days?” What would you say?

A: What I believe is that God created the universe, and that the 6 days in the Bible may not be 6 days as we understand it. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth, that is fundamentally true. Now whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible, that I don’t presume to know. But one last point--I do believe in evolution. I don’t think that is incompatible with Christian faith. Just as I don’t think science generally is incompatible with Christian faith. There are those who suggest that if you have a scientific bent of mind, then somehow you should reject religion. And I fundamentally disagree with that. In fact, the more I learn about the world, the more I know about science, the more I’m amazed about the mystery of this planet and this universe. And it strengthens my faith as opposed to weakens it.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College , Apr 13, 2008

Mother home-schooled Obama in English while in Indonesia

His mother understood "the life chances of an American from those of an Indonesian. She knew which side of the divide she wanted her child to be on. I was an American, she decided, and my true life lay elsewhere," Obama remembered.

The means she chose to achieve this end was education. The family did not have enough money for Obama to attend a private elementary school, so his mother subscribed to a series of elementary school correspondence courses. Each weekday, starting at 4:00 a.m., Dunham taught Obama his English lessons for three hours before he went to school and she left for work.

She also taught him values. "If you want to grow into a human being,' she would say to me, 'you're going to need some values.' Honesty... Fairness... Straight talk... and independent judgment," Obama wrote. "In a land where fatalism remained a necessary tool for enduring hardship, where ultimate truths were kept separate from day-to-day realities, she was a lonely witness for secular humanism."

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 7 , Apr 1, 2008

Children’s First Agenda: zero to five early education

Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 20-23 , Feb 2, 2008

Put billions of dollars into early childhood education

Latinos have such a high dropout rate. What you see consistently are children at a very early age are starting school already behind. That’s why I’ve said that I’m going to put billions of dollars into early childhood education that makes sure that our African-American youth, Latino youth, poor youth of every race, are getting the kind of help that they need so that they know their numbers, their colors, their letters. Every dollar that we spend in early childhood education, we get $10 back in reduced dropout rates, improved reading scores. That’s the kind of commitment we have to make early on. We’ve got to improve K through 12. That means not just talking about how great teachers are but rewarding them for their greatness by giving them higher salaries and giving them more support and professional development; and making sure that No Child Left Behind is not a tool to punish people, and we’re not just basing how we fund our schools on a standardized test.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas , Jan 15, 2008

Need after-school and summer programs with good parenting

We need after-school programs and summer-school programs because minority youth and poor youth are less likely to get the kind of environment and supplemental activities that they need. But let’s be clear: We have good answers for how to make these schools work. What we don’t have is a sense of urgency in the White House. I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents. I did not get money and privilege when I was young. But I did get a good education. And we’ve got to have that attitude for every single child in America. That also means--last point I’ll make, because sometimes this doesn’t get talked enough about. We have to have our parents take their jobs seriously, and particularly African-American fathers who all too often are absent from the home, have not encouraged the kind of, you know, nurturing of our children that they need. As somebody who grew up without a father, I know how important that is. The schools can’t do it all by themselves. Parents have to parent.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas , Jan 15, 2008

Get parents re-engaged in educating the children

Oftentimes minority children are already behind when they start school. Not just talking about how great teachers are but giving them more money and more support. Changing no child left behind so that we’re not just teaching to a test and crowding out programs like art and music that are so critical. You asked earlier about sacrifices that I’ll ask from the American people. One of the things that I want to do is get parents reengaged in instilling a sense of excellence in their children. And I’ve said this all across the country when I talk to parents about education, government has to fulfill its obligations to fund education, but parents have to do their job too. We’ve got to turn off the TV set, we’ve got to put away the video game, and we have to tell our children that session not a passive activity, you have to be actively engaged in it. If we encourage that attitude and our community is enforcing it, I have no doubt we can compete with anybody in the world.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate , Dec 13, 2007

Nationwide program to reconstruct crumbling school buildings

Q: What could you do to curb the high Hispanic dropout rate?

A: Well, keep in mind this is not just a crisis for the Hispanic community; this is a crisis for the entire country because increasingly the workforce is going to be black and brown, and if those young people are not trained, then this country will not be competitive. Closing the achievement gap involves making sure that children are prepared the day they come to school, and so working with at-risk parents & poor children to make sure that they’re getting their childhood education they need is absolutely critical. I’ve seen crumbling school buildings & children learning in trailers because of overcrowding. We’ve got to have a program of school construction all across the nation. After-school programs and summer school programs can make an enormous difference in preventing dropout rates because a lot of times young people after they get out of school have no place to do their homework. And that can make an enormous difference.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision in Spanish , Sep 9, 2007

STEP UP: summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged

Differences in learning opportunities during the summer contribute to the achievement gaps that separate struggling poor and minority students from their middle-class peers. Obama’s STEP UP plan supports summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.

Obama supports increasing funding for the Head Start program for preschool children. Obama has called on states to replicate the Illinois model of Preschool for All.

Source: 2008 Presidential campaign website, BarackObama.com “Flyers” , Aug 26, 2007

We left the money behind for No Child Left Behind

I’ve had a lot of discussions with teachers. And they feel betrayed and frustrated by No Child Left Behind. We shouldn’t reauthorize it without changing it fundamentally. We left the money behind for No Child Left Behind, and so there are school districts all across the state and all across the country that are having a difficult time implementing No Child Left Behind.
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Supreme Court was wrong on school anti-integration ruling

Q: In light of the recent anti-integration Supreme Court decision, please tell us what would you do to promote an equal opportunity and integration in American public schools and how would you ensure that the courts would hand down more balanced opinions

A: The Supreme Court was wrong. These were local school districts that had voluntarily made a determination that all children would be better off if they learned together. The notion that this Supreme Court would equate that with the segregation as tasked would make Thurgood Marshall turn in his grave. Which is why I’m glad I voted against Alito & voted against Roberts. But let’s remember that we also have a crisis in all our schools that have to be fixed, whether they’re integrated or not. We’ve got to have early childhood education. We’ve got to fix crumbling schools. We’ve got to have an excellent teacher in front of every classroom. We’ve got to make college affordable. The Supreme Court doesn’t have to order that. We can do that ourselves.

Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum , Jul 12, 2007

Cut banks out and add $4.5 Billion to college loans

It’s really important that we revamp our college loan programs to free up more money for students. The direct loan program works extremely well--there doesn’t appear to be a need for these student loan programs to be managed through banks and other private lenders. If we consolidate programs under the Direct Loan program, we would save $4.5 billion.
Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 37 , Mar 27, 2007

Guarantee affordable life-long, top-notch education

We’ve got a story to tell that isn’t just against something but is for something. We know that we’re the party of opportunity. We know that in a global economy that’s more connective and more competitive that we’re the party that will guarantee every American an affordable, world-class, life-long, top-notch education, from early childhood to high school--from college to on-the-job training. We know that that’s what we’re about.
Source: Annual 2006 Take Back America Conference , Jun 14, 2006

Sex education needed to help children discuss molestation

KEYES: [to Obama]: You voted that sex education should begin in kindergarten but it would be “age appropriate sex education.” But you opposed putting internet filters in schools. It makes me wonder what exactly you think is age appropriate. Do you believ that in the 2nd grade we should be teaching from books like Heather Has Two Mommies.

OBAMA: Actually, that wasn’t what I had in mind. We have an existing law that mandates sex education in the schools and we want to make sure that it’s medically accurate and age appropriate. I have a 3 year old daughter and a six year old daughter and one of the things I talk about with my wife is the possibility of someone touching them inappropriately. And that’s why [sex education] is in the law. So they can exercise some kind of protection against abuse. As for filters, I have voted for them. In the school setting, there was information schoolchildren could not access such as information about breast cancer, which is why there was a broad opposition.

Source: Illinois Senate Debate #3: Barack Obama vs. Alan Keyes , Oct 21, 2004

Provide decent funding and get rid of anti-intellectualism

I try to avoid an either/or approach to solving the problems of this country. There are questions of individual responsibility and questions of societal responsibility to be dealt with. The best example is an education. I’m going to insist that we’ve got decent funding, enough teachers, and computers in the classroom, but unless you turn off the television set and get over a certain anti-intellectualism that I think pervades some low-income communities, our children are not going to achieve.
Source: Meet The Press, NBC News, 2004 interview with Tim Russert , Jul 25, 2004

Address the growing achievement gap between students

Our public education system is the key to opportunity for millions of children and families. It needs to be the best in the world. Of particular concern is the growing achievement gap between middle and low-income students, which has continued to expand despite some overall national achievement gains.
Source: 2004 Senate campaign website, ObamaForIllinois.com , May 2, 2004

Will add 25,000 teachers in high-need areas

Obama will fight for full funding for Head Start and expanded pre-school, so every child starts school ready to learn. He has proposed a national network of teaching academies to add 25,000 new teachers to high-need urban and rural schools. And, he will work to send deserving students to college through loan programs that help middle-class families instead of banks.
Source: 2004 Senate campaign website, ObamaForIllinois.com , May 2, 2004


Barack Obama on College

College Scorecard: compare schools by affordability

Today, skyrocketing costs price way too many young people out of a higher education, or saddle them with unsustainable debt.

Through tax credits, grants, and better loans, we have made college more affordable for millions of students and families over the last few years. But taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the soaring cost of higher education. Colleges must do their part to keep costs down, and it's our job to make sure they do. Tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid. And tomorrow, my Administration will release a new "College Scorecard" that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.

Source: 2013 State of the Union Address , Feb 12, 2013

2 million more slots in our community colleges

We've got to improve our education system and we've made enormous progress drawing on ideas both from Democrats and Republicans that are already starting to show gains in some of the toughest to deal with schools. We've got a program called Race to the Top that has prompted reforms in 46 states around the country, raising standards, improving how we train teachers.

So now I want to hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keep tuition low for our young people.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate , Oct 3, 2012

Cut out the middleman on student loans from banks

When it comes to community colleges, we are seeing great work done out there all over the country because we have the opportunity to train people for jobs that exist right now. And one of the things I suspect Governor Romney and I probably agree on is getting businesses to work with community colleges so that they're setting up their training programs. When it comes to making college affordable, whether it's two-year or four-year, one of the things that I did as president was we were sending $60 billion to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, even though the loans were guaranteed. So there was no risk for the banks or the lenders, but they were taking billions out of the system. And we said, "Why not cut out the middleman?" And as a consequence, what we've been able to do is to provide millions more students assistance, lower or keep low interest rates on student loans.
Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate , Oct 3, 2012

More education funding from early childhood thru Pell grants

Q: Only one out of 10 Hispanics graduate from college. And only one out of three finish high school. To what do you attribute the high dropout rate?

A: Some of the work that we've done over the last four years to make sure that the student loan interest rate stays low, expanding Pell grants for millions of students, including millions of Latino students, so that we are seeing the highest college enrollment rate among Latino students in history--all that is going to help to contribute to us being able to deal with the problem of secondary and high school educations by inspiring a whole lot of students to say, I can do that, too; I can achieve that dream. One of the things we know is going to make a big difference is early childhood education. So we've put enormous effort not only in providing additional funding for early childhood education, but also to improve the quality. 46 states have initiated reforms.

Source: Obama-Romney interviews by Univision Noticias (Spanish News) , Sep 19, 2012

Michelle: We were so young, so in love, and so in debt

When it comes to giving our kids the education they deserve, Barack knows that like me and like so many of you, he never could've attended college without financial aid.

And believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage. We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.

That's why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promise and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt.

So in the end, for Barack, these issues aren't political--they're personal. Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it. And he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love.

Source: Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 4, 2012

Make community colleges into community career centers

I hear from many business leaders who want to hire but can't find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. That's inexcusable. And we know how to fix it

Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. Model partnerships between businesses and community colleges are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers--places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.

I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help they need. It's time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work.

Source: 2012 State of the Union speech , Jan 24, 2012

Jobs today require at least a bachelor's degree

Historically, education has been the great equalizer. But something has gone terribly wrong with education--and we've slipped further and further behind. Among 30 developed countries ranked by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, th US ranked 25th in math and 21st in science.

"Education," said Pres. Obama during his May 2010 commencement address at Hampton University, "is what has always allowed us to meet the challenges of a changing world." But he made it clear that the bar for meeting those challenges has been raised, and that a high-school diploma--formerly, in the president's words, "a ticket into a solid middle-class life"--is no longer enough to compete in what he called the "knowledge economy."

"Jobs today often require at least a bachelor's degree," he said, "and that degree is even more important in tough times like these. In fact, the unemployment rate for folks who've never gone to college is over twice as high as for folks with a college degree or more."

Source: Third World America, by Arianna Huffington, p.114-115 , Sep 2, 2010

$10K college tax credit; forgive loans for public service

In this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job. That's why I urge the Senate to pass a bill that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families.

To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, let's take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college & increase Pell Grants.

And let's tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10% of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years--and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the USA, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.

And by the way, it's time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs--because they, too, have a responsibility to help solve this problem.

Source: 2010 State of the Union Address , Jan 27, 2010

$2,500 tax credit for all four years of college

Over the next two years, my economic plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90 percent of these jobs will be in the private sector--jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges; constructing wind turbines and solar panels; laying broadband and expanding mass transit.

Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick.

Because of this plan, 95 percent of working households in America will receive a tax cut--a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1st.

Because of this plan, families who are struggling to pay tuition costs will receive a $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college. And Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage to help them weather this storm.

Source: 2009 State of the Union address , Feb 24, 2009

Refundable $4000 tax credit for community college tuition

Obama proposes to expand the child-care tax credit, though he would also dramatically expand the system of child care and pre-kindergarten. He also proposes a refundable $4,000 tax credit--equivalent to a direct grant--for community college tuition.

It would also be available to other college students who completed a hundred hours a year of volunteer service.

Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p. 98 , Aug 25, 2008

To compete, students need at least H.S. & college degree

We know that education is everything to our children’s future. We know that they will no longer just compete for good jobs with children from Indiana, but children from India and China and all over the world. We know the work and the studying and the level of education that requires.

You know, sometimes I’ll go to an eighth-grade graduation and there’s all that pomp and circumstance and gowns and flowers. And I think to myself, it’s just eighth grade. To really compete, they need to graduate high school, and then they need to graduate college, and they probably need a graduate degree too. An eighth-grade education doesn’t cut it today. Let’s give them a handshake and tell them to get their butts back in the library!

Source: Chicago church speech, in Change We Can Believe In, p.237 , Jun 15, 2008

Pay for college education for those who commit to teaching

We need to recruit an army of new teachers. I’ll make this pledge: If you commit your life to teaching, America will pay for your college education. We’ll recruit teachers in math and science, and deploy them to under-staffed school districts in our inner cities and rural America. We’ll expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. And when our teachers succeed, I won’t just talk about how great they are--I’ll reward their greatness with better pay and more support.
Source: Speech in Flint, MI, in Change We Can Believe In, p.250 , Jun 15, 2008

$4,000 college tuition for 100 hours’ public service a year

Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 20&46 , Feb 2, 2008


Barack Obama on Merit Incentives

Romney education stances compared to Obama

OnTheIssues' paperback book explores how Romney's stances on education issues differ from Obama's, and where they are similar. We cite details from Romney's books and speeches, and Obama's, so you can compare them, side-by-side, on issues like these:

Romney vs. Obama on Social Issues

Source: Paperback: Romney vs. Obama On The Issues , Jan 8, 2012

FactCheck: Race to the Top has only rewarded 12 states

Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion competitive grant program for states that seeks to encourage public schools to develop new ways to raise standards and measure achievement for both teachers and students in elementary and secondary schools. Not all states received funding. They had to compete for the money, and, in the end, 11 states and the District of Columbia were the winners in two rounds of competition. The Department of Education has requested an additional $1.35 billion to continue the program, but Congress must approve it.

Although the majority of states did not receive funding, the Obama administration takes the position that the competition for the funding alone resulted in sweeping education changes in most states. In August, the Dept. of Education said in competing, "35 states and the District of Columbia have adopted rigorous common, college- and career-ready standards in reading and math, and 34 states have changed laws or policies to improve education."

Source: FactCheck.org on 2011 State of the Union speech , Jan 26, 2011

Race to the Top: reward innovation in public schools

When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don't meet this test. That's why instead of just pouring money into a system that's not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all 50 states, we said, "If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we'll show you the money."

Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than 1% of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. And these standards were developed, by the way, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that's more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids.

Source: 2011 State of the Union speech , Jan 26, 2011

Reward successful schools, instead of funding the status quo

We need to invest in the skills and education of our people. Now, this year, we've broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. And the idea here is simple: Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform--reform that raises student achievement; inspires students to excel in math and science; and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to the inner city.

In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education. And in this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential.

When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work with Congress to expand these reforms to all 50 states.

Source: 2010 State of the Union Address , Jan 27, 2010

Volunteer in your neighborhood & we help pay for college

I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch & Senator Edward Kennedy.
Source: 2009 State of the Union address , Feb 24, 2009

Merit pay ok if based on career instead of a single test

Q: As president, can you name a hot-button issue where you would be willing to buck the Democratic Party line & say, “You know what? Republicans have a better idea here?”

A: I think that on issues of education, I’ve been very clear about the fact--and sometimes I’ve gotten in trouble with the teachers’ union on this--that we should be experimenting with charter schools. We should be experimenting with different ways of compensating teachers.

Q: You mean merit pay?

A: Well, merit pay, the way it’s been designed, I think, is based on just a single standardized test--I think is a big mistake, because the way we measure performance may be skewed by whether or not the kids are coming into school already 3 years or 4 years behind. But I think that having assessment tools and then saying, “You know what? Teachers who are on career paths to become better teachers, developing themselves professionally--that we should pay excellence more.” I think that’s a good idea.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: presidential series , Apr 27, 2008

Pay “master teachers” extra, but with buy-in from teachers

Q: What about performance-based pay?

A: Teachers are extraordinarily frustrated about how their performance is assessed. And not just their own performance, but the school’s performance generally. So they’re teaching to the tests all the time. What I have said is that we should be able to get buy-in from teachers in terms of how to measure progress. Every teacher I think wants to succeed. And if we give them a pathway to professional development, where we’re creating master teachers, they are helping with apprenticeships for young new teachers, they are involved in a variety of other activities, that are really adding value to the schools, then we should be able to give them more money for it. But we should only do it if the teachers themselves have some buy-in in terms of how they’re measured. They can’t be judged simply on standardized tests that don’t take into account whether children are prepared before they get to school or not.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Incentives to hire a million teachers over next decade

We’ve got to make sure that teachers are going to the schools that need them the most. We’re going to lose a million teachers over the next decade because the baby-boom generation is retiring. And so it’s absolutely critical for us to give them the incentives and the tools and the training that they need not only to become excellent teachers but to become excellent teachers where they’re most needed.

We’re going to have to put more money into after-school programs and provide the resources that are necessary. When you’ve got a bill called No Child Left Behind, you can’t leave the money behind for No Child Left Behind. And unfortunately, that’s what’s been done.

The reason that we have consistently had underperformance among our children is because too many of us think it is acceptable for them not to achieve. And we have to have a mindset where we say to ourselves, every single child can learn if they’re given the resources and the opportunities. And right now that’s not happening.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

Pay teachers more money & treat them like professionals

It’s time to turn the page on education, to move past the slow decay of indifference that says some schools can’t be fixed, that says some kids just can’t learn. As president, I will launch a campaign to recruit and support hundreds of thousands of new teachers across the country--because the most important part of any education is the person standing in front of the classroom. It’s time to treat teaching like the profession that it is. It’s time to pay our teachers what they deserve. Pay them more money.

And when it comes to developing the high standards we need, it’s time to stop working against our teachers and start working with them. Teachers don’t go in to education to get rich. They don’t go in to education because they don’t believe in their children. They want their children to succeed, but we’ve got to give them the tools. Invest in early childhood education. Invest in our teachers and our children will succeed.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference , Jun 19, 2007

More teacher pay in exchange for more teacher accountability

Conservatives argue that the problems in schools are caused by bureaucracies and teachers’ unions; and that the only solution is to hand out vouchers. Those on the left find themselves defending an indefensible status quo, insisting that more spending will improve education.

Both assumptions are wrong. Money does matter in education. But there is no denying that the way many public schools are managed poses at least as big a problem as how well they’re funded.

Our task is to identify those reforms that have the highest impact on achievement, fund them, and eliminate those programs that don’t produce results. We are going to have to take the teaching profession seriously. This means paying teachers what they are worth. There is no reason why an experienced, highly qualified teacher shouldn’t earn $100,000. In exchange for more money, teachers need to become more accountable for their performances, and school districts need to have greater ability to get rid of ineffective teachers.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.161-163 , Oct 1, 2006

Free public college for any student with B-average

Source: 1998 IL State Legislative National Political Awareness Test , Jul 2, 1998


Barack Obama on School Choice

Opposes D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program

The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP) was the 1st federally funded voucher program in America. It gave low-income parents $7,500 a year to choose the best education for their children. It transformed parents and students into customers with the power to exercise choice. And, like most customers, these parents shopped around. They exercised their choice. And it worked. Kids who failed in public schools succeeded in private and charter schools that were chosen by their parents--at less than 1/3 of the cost.

Instead of supporting the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, the federal government eliminated funding for new students who wanted to enter the program. "The Obama Administration and the Democratic majority prevented siblings and other new students from joining the OSP [Opportunity Scholarship Program], effectively ending the program." The president said, "This administration strongly opposes expanding the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program and opening it to new students."

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p.118-119 , Feb 14, 2012

Increase school choice & accountability within NCLB

President Barack Obama has been attempting to have the NCLB law rewritten by making accountability even tougher and making school choice more available to parents of children in failing schools. In fact, Obama and Governor Christie appear to be on the same page when it comes to education reforms such as merit pay although Obama has not gone to the same extreme as Christie in his plan to repeal state tenure laws for teachers.
Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p. 91 , Feb 17, 2011

I doubled charter schools in Illinois; but no vouchers

McCAIN: Choice and competition amongst schools is one of the key elements that’s already been proven in places in like New Orleans and New York City and other places, where we have charter schools. We have to be able to give parents the same choice, frankly, that Sen. Obama and Mrs. Obama had and Cindy and I had to send our kids & their kids to the school of their choice.

Charter schools aren’t the only answer, but they’re providing competition. They are providing the kind of competitions that have upgraded both types of schools.

OBAMA: Sen. McCain and I actually agree on charter schools. I doubled the number of charter schools in Illinois despite some reservations from teachers unions. I think it’s important to foster competition inside the public schools. Where we disagree is on the idea that we can somehow give out vouchers as a way of securing the problems in our education system.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain , Oct 15, 2008

Vouchers don’t solve the problems of our schools

McCAIN: I’m sure you’re aware, Sen. Obama, of the program in the Washington, D.C., school system where vouchers are provided. It’s a thousand and some 9,000 parents asked to be eligible for that.

OBAMA: The D.C. school system is in terrible shape, and it has been for a very long time. And we’ve got a wonderful new superintendent there who’s working very hard with the young mayor.

McCAIN: Who supports vouchers.

OBAMA: Actually, she supports charters.

McCAIN: She supports vouchers, also.

OBAMA: Even if Sen. McCain were to say that vouchers were the way to go--I disagree with him on this, because the data doesn’t show that it actually solves the problem--the centerpiece of Sen. McCain’s education policy is to increase the voucher program in D.C. by 2,000 slots. That leaves all of you who live in the other 50 states without an education reform policy from Sen. McCain.

McCAIN: Because there’s not enough vouchers; therefore, we shouldn’t do it, even though it’s working. I got it.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain , Oct 15, 2008

FactCheck: McCain for national reforms & also DC vouchers

The Statement:Obama criticized McCain’s education proposals, saying, “The centerpiece of Senator McCain’s education policy is to increase the voucher program in D.C. by 2,000 slots,” Obama said. “That leaves all of you who live in the other 50 states without an education reform policy from Senator McCain.”

The Facts:McCain does support expanding what’s called The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. But McCain’s other proposals for education, as detailed on his campaign Web site, include expanding funding for at least one Head Start center in each state; requiring all federally supported preschools to offer comprehensive teaching in subjects including literacy, math readiness and social skills; and funding to provide bonuses to teachers who move to underperforming schools.

The Verdict:False. While education has been less prominent than other issues, McCain has several education proposals other than school vouchers.

Source: CNN FactCheck on 2008 third presidential debate , Oct 15, 2008

Supports charter schools; it’s important to experiment

Q: Name an issue where you’ve been willing to stand up against your party.

A: We had a roundtable about what we need to do with the schools. I’ve consistently said, we need to support charter schools. I think it is important to experiment, by looking at how we can reward excellence in the classroom.

Q: Have teacher’s unions been an impediment to that kind of reform?

A: They haven’t been thrilled with me talking about these kinds of issues. And my sister is a teacher, so I am a strong support of teachers, but I’m not going to be bound by just a certain way of talking about these things, in order for us to move forward on behalf of our kids. And I think a lot of teachers want to talk about how to continually improve performance. That’s not a conservative issue or liberal issue. If you’re a progressive, you’ve got to be worried about how the federal government is spending its revenue, because we don’t have enough money to spend on things like early childhood education that are so important.

Source: 2008 Politico pre-Potomac Primary interview , Feb 11, 2008

We need a sense of urgency about improving education system

Q: How would you assess the American education system, how well is it doing from K to high school?

A: Well, I think it’s doing very well for some. But it’s not doing very well for all. So, No Child Left Behind has been false advertising. And there doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency about improving the education system. It is a sense of urgency that we’ve got to restore if we’re going to be able to remain competitive in this new global economy. So, a couple of steps that I think we have to take. Across the board we’re going to have to recruit a generation of new teachers. We’re going to have to pay our teachers more, we going to have to give them more professional development, and we’re also going to have to work with them rather than against them to improve standards. We’ve got to improve early childhood education, because that’s the area where we can probably most effectively achieve the achievement gap that exists right now.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate , Sep 13, 2007

Sends kids to private school; but wants good schools for all

Q: Do you send your kids to public school or private school?

A: My kids have gone to the University of Chicago Lab School, a private school, because I taught there, and it was five minutes from our house. So it was the best option for our kids. But the fact is that there are some terrific public schools in Chicago that they could be going to. The problem is, is that we don’t have good schools, public schools, for all kids. A US senator can get his kid into a terrific public school. That’s not the question. The question is whether or not ordinary parents, who can’t work the system, are able to get their kids into a decent school, and that’s what I need to fight for and will fight for as president.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Public school system status quo is indefensible

We know that global competition requires us to revamp our educational system, replenish our teaching corps, buckle down on math and science instruction, and rescue inner-city kids from illiteracy. Our debate seems stuck between those who want to dismantle the system and those who would defend an indefensible status quo, between those who say money makes no difference in education and those who want more money without any demonstration that it will be put to good use.
Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 22 , Oct 1, 2006

Supports charter schools and private investment in schools

Source: 1998 IL State Legislative National Political Awareness Test , Jul 2, 1998


Barack Obama on Voting Record

First Senate bill: increase Pell Grant from $4,050 to $5,100

Free Up Money for Student Aid and Protect Student Borrowers:

The first bill Obama introduced in the Senate was to help make college more affordable by increasing the maximum Pell Grant from $4,050 to $5,100. As president, Obama would eliminate wasteful subsidies to private student lenders, which will save nearly $6 billion dollars per year, and invest the savings in additional student aid.
Source: 2008 Presidential campaign website, BarackObama.com “Flyers” , Aug 26, 2007

Sponsored legislations that recruit and reward good teachers

Obama co-sponsored legislation to create a National Teaching Academy of Chicago that recruits, prepares and develops quality teachers for high-need urban school districts. He co-sponsored legislation that created the Future Teacher Corps Scholarships to provide financial aid for undergraduate & graduate students studying to become teachers. He was chief sponsor of a bill creating the Certified Teacher Retention Bonus Program that provides grants to reward high quality teachers in low performing schools.
Source: 2004 Senate campaign website, ObamaForIllinois.com , Sep 28, 2004

Voted YES on $52M for "21st century community learning centers".

To increase appropriations for after-school programs through 21st century community learning centers. Voting YES would increase funding by $51.9 million for after school programs run by the 21st century community learning centers and would decrease funding by $51.9 million for salaries and expenses in the Department of Labor.
Reference: Amendment to Agencies Appropriations Act; Bill S Amdt 2287 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-279 on Oct 27, 2005

Voted YES on $5B for grants to local educational agencies.

To provide an additional $5 billion for title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Voting YES would provide:
Reference: Elementary and Secondary Education Amendment; Bill S Amdt 2275 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-269 on Oct 26, 2005

Voted YES on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education.

Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution that would adjust education funding while still reducing the deficit by $5.4 billion. A YES vote would:
Reference: Kennedy amendment relative to education funding; Bill S AMDT 177 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-68 on Mar 17, 2005

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