Advancing Opportunity and Success in U.S. Education

Archived Information

Advancing Opportunity and Success in U.S. Education

September 12, 2016

"In America, opportunity can never be rationed. It cannot be a perk set aside for some and denied to others. Opportunity must be available to all. Opportunity and education are not only the foundation of our economy, they are also the foundation of our democracy and the American way of life." – U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr.

President Barack Obama entered office in 2009 with a comprehensive vision for improving our education system to advance our children's opportunity and success. That vision included efforts to address the dropout crisis, improve student achievement, and increase graduation rates; expand equity in education through stronger schools; give more of our youngest learners access to high-quality early childhood education; ensure all students achieve high standards that prepare them for college and career; grow innovation and investment in what works, while safeguarding the right of all students to a world-class education; and have the opportunity to complete an affordable high-quality college education.

Thanks to the hard work of educators, state and local leaders, communities, parents, families, and students, the nation has made significant educational progress over the last eight years. High school graduation rates are at an all-time high, and the dropout rate has decreased—with all groups making progress, and students of color closing gaps. The nation has a new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, passed with bipartisan support and signed by President Obama in December 2015 that offers the chance to reclaim the promise of an excellent, well-rounded education for every student. More states have implemented their own unique plans for education reform and school turnarounds. More independent students, older students, and parents are also enrolling in college for the first time. Meanwhile, more students are graduating college than ever before; there have already been well over 27 million college degrees and credentials awarded since the President took office. More students are making their student debt successfully, as defaults, delinquencies, and forbearances are on the decline. More students and families have access to the information they need to make the best choice about college—from easier and now earlier financial aid to the next generation of college transparency with tools like College Scorecard. And we've expanded access to pre-K, free community college, and computer science classes.

To build on our prosperity and competitiveness as a nation, the Administration has worked diligently to partner with states and communities to make a positive difference for students and to continue the work to deliver on the promise of a world-class education for every child. See a video about that progress here.

To celebrate those successes, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. is launching a five-day bus trip across six states, starting in Washington, D.C., and ending in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will start with a rally on the plaza outside the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., with stops in Charlottesville, Virginia; Bristol, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis, Tennessee; Harvest, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianola, Mississippi; and Monroe, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana. A trailer for the bus tour is here.

During this year's "Opportunity Across America" Tour, King and other senior Department officials will hold events touting the Administration's key initiatives over eight years, highlighting the progress made to expand opportunity across the nation and the groundwork laid for continued momentum. Along the route, talented art teachers, students, and local artists in each community will draw and write on the bus, creating a collaborative mural focusing on the definition of "opportunity."

Here are a series of fact sheets the Department posted on Medium to highlight the successes over the last eight years: