Many of you may have seen President Obama’s speech to Benjamin Banneker High School in Washington D.C. 2 days ago. If you missed it you can watch it here. In it President Obama describes not only what has been accomplished throughout his time in the Oval office but also why we need to continue in the direction we have been going.
His progress report for the status of the education level in the U.S. began with the recent news that our national high school graduation rate has reached an all time high of 83%. According to the National Center for Education Statistics these numbers are projected to continue growing. He then goes on to explain the importance of early education and how those numbers are growing. “High quality early education is one of the best investments we can make.” During his time in office over 60,000 children have been added to the Head Start program. When he entered the office only 38 states offered state funded preschool. He will leave office with that number now at 48.
Speaking to a room full of high school students, he showed the charisma we have all fallen in love with and engaged the students on the importance of going beyond a high school diploma. FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an important topic for students who are graduating. He announced that FAFSA now goes beyond just applying but is also offering comprehensive information on every college in America via the College Scorecard. “Unlike traditional rankings that focus on which school has the fanciest dorm or the nicest football stadiums, or is the most expensive, or the most exclusive, what our College Score card does is focuses on some of the things that really matter for your future. Things like, how many students actually graduate from the school, how much money do their alumni earn, and what percentage of their students can pay back their loans.”
“Bottom line is higher graduation rates, higher college attendance rates, more money for Pell grants, work to make sure the interest rate on students loans hasn’t gone up, working to expand early childhood education and preschool, continuing to watch and work with states as they try to implement reforms to make K-12 better, holding colleges more accountable for giving information so that students can make good decisions.”
“We’ve made a lot of progress. But we’ve still got more work to do.”
Seeing the advances that we’ve made and knowing there is still much to do reminds us that the 2016 Platform for our Party regarding education is of the utmost importance. We must continue with what President Obama has led by ensuring this Platform will be in the Oval office. Reaching free community college by 2020 is now more achievable than ever.
I hope both youth and elders alike are following his instruction, “That’s why if you’re 18 you’ve got to vote to make sure the folks who represent you actually are delivering. ” Voting for the President is not the only vote on the ballot and we must work to ensure the leaders of our states are representing the will of its people. Hopefully the results of this election will bring the states that are behind in education to a new level and their leaders will implement the necessary tools and spending to do so.