What is the proper role of the federal government in education? Secretary Arne Duncan answered this question Monday at Parenting‘s annual Mom Congress in Washington. “Under President Obama’s leadership, our role here in Washington is to support you,” Duncan said. There’s a transformation underway in public education at the state and local level, he said, that is raising expectations for students and educators.
At the Department of Education, our first three years were really about building a foundation for this transformation. We have challenged the status quo wherever it is needed and championed bold reform wherever it is happening along the educational pipeline from cradle to career.
Secretary Duncan explained how the Obama Administration has supported reforms by:
Strengthening K-12 Education
The Administration is investing in courageous leadership at the state and local level, taking to scale practices that close achievement gaps and raise the bar for all students. Investments include:
Investing in Early Learning
The Obama Administration has made an unprecedented investment in high-quality early childhood education with the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge.
Keeping Teachers on the Job
Under the Recovery Act and emergency jobs funding, more than 325,000 teachers were kept in classrooms during the height of the recession.
Investing in Higher Education
The Obama Administration has made the largest investment in higher education since the G.I. Bill.
- Three million more students are going to college with Pell Grants, thanks to an increase in Pell funding by $40 billion. Rather than adding to the deficit, the Administration paid for the increase by cutting overly generous federal subsidies to big banks that make student loans.
- Invested $2.5 billion to support adults attending community colleges.
- Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has resulted in 50 percent more applications since President Obama took office.
“The bottom line today is: We can’t stop,” Secretary Duncan said. “The costs of educational stagnation and mediocrity are too high. President Obama has put us on a path to reach our goal of being the best-educated country in the world by 2020, and we have to keep going.”
Arne encouraged the education advocates in the audience—moms from all 50 states and D.C.—to continue working in their communities on behalf of their own children and all children. Parents need to be good partners with their children’s teachers, he told them, but “also need to be partners in bigger, systemic issues.”