On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This was in response to the worst economic crisis in the U.S. since the Great Depression. At the time, private employers had cut almost 4 million jobs and trillions in dollars in household wealth had been wiped out.
The Council of Economic Advisors has released its final report to Congress which affirms the investments made through ARRA have had a positive impact on the economy. We not only see the effects of ARRA through the millions of jobs it helped create, but we also see how ARRA has helped in the classroom.
ARRA has provided more than $97 billion in existing and new education-related grant programs, including the Race to the Top (RTT) program. This investment in education was made to improve schools, raise achievement, drive reforms and produce better results for children and young people all across this country, many of them Latinos, as 33 percent of Latino students live in states that received RTT grant funding.
In addition, ARRA funding included investments in early learning to reach our youngest children through Head Start, Early Head Start, child care and services for infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children. Thirty-six percent of the nation’s Head Start children are Latino, the largest of any minority group in the U.S.
Five years later, the U.S. economy is undoubtedly on a more solid footing, and so too are our nation’s schools and students. The U.S. Department of Education reports that today’s high school graduation rate is at 80 percent, the highest in American history. Latino students are also completing high school in record numbers. Among the Latino high school graduates in the class of 2012, 69 percent enrolled in college that fall, higher than the rate among their white counterparts (67 percent).
No doubt, we have further to go, but these successes are reasons to celebrate the hard work of our educators, students and parents.
Read more about the ARRA five-year anniversary.