President Obama is pushing his budgetÂ proposal to overhaul the entire education system throughout the U.S. His plan would affect students of all ages with a goal of improving education levels all across the U.S. starting with preschool aged children. In a recent speech to the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Obama began to divulge what exactly he has in mind for this giant overhaul. He spoke of a 5 tier reform plan that touches on what seems like every stage of the educational process. The President was quoted as saying, “We have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short and other nations outpace us…The time for finger-pointing is over. The time for holding ourselves accountable is here.”
The 5 reform points that he spoke about are as follows:
1. Increase investments in early childhood programs such as Headstart etc.
2. Holding students accountable for higher/tougher testing standards
3. Increase teacher training and recruitment, and offer “merit pay” (teachers that produce more results will get paid more than others). Along with that, ineffective teachers would be let go if they fail to improve.
4. Renew his campaign for the support of charter schools. (definition of a charter school = Charter schools are elementary or secondary schools in the United States that receive public money but have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school’s charter). President Obama also proposed longer school days.
5. For Higher Education he wants to increase the annual Pell Grants maximum to $5550, and push for students from working families to receive a $2500 tax credit.
I can only imagine that the republicans must be reeling…especially about the money for Headstart. Also included in early investments was an idea to have registered nurses visit the homes of single moms regularly to make sure their children are healthy and ready for school life. Not a bad idea, but who will run this program? I will say that he has a point when it comes to holding students and teachers accountable for their performances. Have you ever had a bad teacher? I have, and it made me lose any interest I may have had in the subject at hand. Frankly our country collectivelyÂ cannot really afford to have children caring less about school thanÂ some of them already do.
For those students that are fortunate enough to go on to college, Obama has some plans there as well. The Pell grant isÂ a Federal grant given to students who exhibit more financial need than others; this “financial need” is determined when you fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Obama proposes to raise the annual maximum amounts on that grant from $4,731 for the 2008-2009 school year to $5350 for the 2009-2010 school year, and then increase it again to $5500 for the 2010-2011 school year. The unsubsidized loan amount for dependent students is currently $2,000, but Obama’s stimulus plan will add an additional $2000 to that, which will help a lot of students out whose parents cannot afford to help them through college. The President also proposes to eliminate the FFEL loan program (private lenders who lend Federal loans) and have all Federal loans run through Direct Loans (the U.S. Department of Education’s Loan program); but wait, there is more….the Perkins loan, which is another federal loan awarded based on need, is typically run through the college itself, but Obama is proposing to shift that loan program so it is run through the government. Now I have my loans from my undergraduate degree with Direct loans, and the customer service is definitely not top notch. I am wondering how the Department of Education is going to manage all the loans that are currently in the FFEL program AND all the Perkins loan and still make sure that those loan programs don’t fall at the waist side. I personally do not see it happening…and didn’t Clinton propose this at one point, but it failed?
A student tax credit is also part of this the Presidents budget proposal, which would put an extra $2500 in students’ pockets. This is definitely helpful to any student in school, and it can also serve as an incentive for someone to go back to school and finish their education.
This new budget proposal has a lot of big ideas, some of which already have the necessary platforms to execute the new plans. Others however do not. It seems like all the ideas would help to improve the education system in the US, but the road to get there might be a long and bumpy one.
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