Friday, 9 November 2012

Conflict of Aspirations and Skepticism in Obama's Education Reforms

The American voters have extended the White House stay of Obama for second term for four more years. Economic concerns were the key focus over the 2012 presidential race as there was an urgent need to help the nation recover from its economic recession. While discussing higher education policies in his campaign trails this year, Obama brought to light his administration’s expansion of federal aid programs. Education indeed seemed to be a hot topic in the campaign trails of both the candidates.

Now that the results are out, we are to see how well Obama turns his plans and promises into actions. It is been estimated that off all the votes the president was able to bag, 60 percent of the voters aged 18-29. Let us take a quick look at two of out of the several reasons that earns him the title of a student friendly president:

  • Obama has adjusted the federal student loan system and now the repayments are based in income rather than on the amount borrowed.
  • The president has stopped the doubling of the student federal loan rates and has increased funding for Pell Grants that provide financial support to disadvantaged students.
What Next?
Several new regulations are expected to take birth in the coming months and these include new rules governing teacher preparation programs and a new round of rule making to deal with frauds. There are some speculations that are going on about how the president will deal with his education reforms. Let us take a quick tour:
  • The president’s victory implies that colleges can expect federal financial aid though the support would be largely through making halts in deep spending cuts rather than spending new money in higher education programs.
  • In the next 10 years he wishes to cut down the amount by which tuition fees rise every year to half.
  • He visions America to be having the highest proportion of university graduates in the world by 2020.
  • He looks forward to support job training initiatives through partnerships with community colleges and private college in this term. He promises that this would result in a 2 million job placements.
  • He is expected to continue with advocating the Pell Grant in the budget negotiations as he has been doing for the last four years.
Only Time will Tell whats in store

What the Center for Education Reform had to say?
The leadership of The Center for Education Reform says “We praised the President in his first term for reminding the nation of our serious problems with K-12 education….that this support was an impediment to meaningful reforms that could lead to better schools and more educational choices”. Some of the suggestions offered to the president for his second term by the Center for Education Reform include:
  • To work across all education sectors and to be open to the ideas from cities and communities rather than listening to just special interest groups.
  • Encourage choice and charters so that students from failing schools are provided with better choices.
  • Ensure more flexibility in approach by reforming the No Child Left Behind law.

Is it worth it?
Well who can better answer this than the students? They have taken a risk in choosing Obama over the business savvy Romney and they have to wait and watch whether they have laid their bets on the right candidate for the second time.
Jeffrey Henig, a political scientist at Teachers College, Columbia University states “It's clear the Obama administration will continue to make education a priority”. There are huge expectations and the entire nation is looking up to how he gives shapes to his plans.
The higher education advocates are of the view that in his second term, Obama will most likely change the nation’s education policy by deploying his own executive and regulatory authority and sidestepping a bitterly divided Congress. The last four years saw the Obama led administration argue that it will not wait for Congress to pass education reforms in both schools and higher education. His legacy as a student friendly president will depend greatly on whether he can stick to his election promises.