Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Educating Our Young: Obama Proposes Change

In an ongoing effort to understand the issues that really matter in this election, let's look at a summary of Sen. Obama's plans for education. According to the Obama/Biden website:

No Child Left Behind Left the Money Behind: The goal of the law was the right one, but unfulfilled funding promises, inadequate implementation by the Education Department and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have limited its effectiveness and undercut its support.

Students Left Behind: Six million middle and high school students read significantly below their grade level. American 15 year olds rank 28th out of 40 countries in mathematics and 19th out of 40 countries in science.

Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

High Dropout Rate: America has one of the highest dropout rates in the industrialized world. Only 70 percent of U.S. high school students graduate with a diploma.

Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school - strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.

Soaring College Costs: College costs have grown nearly 40 percent in the past five years. The average graduate leaves college with over $19,000 in debt.

Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This credit will:

1. ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans

2. cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university, and

3. make community college tuition completely free for most students.

Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year's tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.

Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

Support College Outreach Programs: Obama supports outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.

Support English Language Learners: Obama supports transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.

Source: Obama/Biden Issues, Education: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/education/

Kim's Summary: There's more to his plans, so consider these highlights. Sen. Obama plans to reform and fund the No Child Left Behind Act, simplify the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal procedure, allowing Americans simply to check a box on their tax filings, and reduce the costs of public college tuition.

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