Federal Policy

What We’re Watching: Paul E. Peterson at the White House

"Getting Children Safely Back To School" With President Trump

Obama’s Education Strategy Makes Good Political Sense, But to Boost High School Graduation Rates, Something Bolder is Needed

The Obama Administration’s governing skills shifted upward this weekend. Making education the centerpiece of the Administration’s second year is a vast improvement over the first-year focus on endless spending, health reform and cap-and-trade. The President needs to take one step further, however, if he wants to find a way to lift four-year high school graduation rates from 70 percent to 100 percent.

Thumbs-Up on Obama’s K-12 Education Themes

On primary-secondary education, as on most topics, Mr. Obama stayed at 30,000 feet. The main themes he sounded, however, are fine: use federal education dollars to reward success, not failure; apply Arne Duncan’s “race to the top” reform priorities to the mega-bucks Elementary/Secondary Education Act; and keep a “competitive” element in this rather than simply distributing dollars via formula. All extremely hard to do but all worth doing.

Obama is Getting the Message

A few days ago I urged the President to shift education upward on the national agenda. Now it appears that he had already anticipated the upset in Massachusetts and was beginning to make the grand pivot even before election day.

Washington Post Wrong in Calling RttT the Largest Federal Education Expenditure

The $4.35 billion or so dollars spent on the Race to the Top, coupled with the extra billion now proposed by the president, is small beer compared to the $75 billion dollars that the stimulus package handed over to local districts for programming as usual. Yet the Administration has succeeded in persuading the allegedly skeptical, tough-minded reporters in Washington that RttT is the biggest federal education program ever mounted.

The Perpetual Stimulus

The Administration is foreshadowing a second stimulus package, this one likely to focus on bailing out local and state governments, including and especially public school systems. Last year a serious argument could be made that our economy was at risk of entering a deflationary cycle, and laying off a bunch of teachers didn’t make smart economic sense. But nobody can make the case today that giving the pink slip to thousands of teachers is going to wreck our economy and usher in the second Great Depression.


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