Menu Close

Recent early education news and updates

In the News

The White House Looks Back on Education Victories: What Obama Did for Dropouts, Standards, Pre-K


May 4, 2016
AccessEconomics and FinanceOutcomesUniversal and Targeted
Carolyn Phenicie
The 74 Million
The White House Tuesday released a report celebrating a host of national accomplishments in K-12 education that should be no surprise to anyone who has taken even a passing interest in national education policy over the last seven years. At the top of the list: preschool, higher standards, and increased graduation rates. The report – timed to coincide with Teacher Appreciation Day – also highlights the administration’s work to support and protect educators. (Appreciating teachers: The 74 spends a day with a special educator in Washington, D.C.)
 
“Our teachers deserve credit for each of our accomplishments and the progress we’re continuing to make, from better early education and higher standards to better student performance and higher graduation rates,” the president wrote in a foreword to the report. “They are passionate about helping our students realize the best versions of themselves so our country can become the best version of itself. Time and again our teachers have met this solemn responsibility, even as we’ve asked more of them than ever before.”
 
Some achievements the administration highlighted in the 60-page report:
 
Preschool: Thirty-eight states offered public preschool programs at the start of the Obama administration, up to 46 now, the administration said. States have invested an additional $1.5 billion in preschool since the president’s 2013 State of the Union speech, during which he pushed for a large-scale preschool program. Federal investment in state programs has now surpassed $750 million, and support for Head Start has increased by $4 billion, according to the report. Nationally, though, Congress never passed a program that would serve all low-income four-year-olds. And only 29 percent of four-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded programs in 2014, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
 
Aiding Educators: And of course, on this Teacher Appreciation Day, the administration showcased the ways it has improved pathways in teaching — and invested in educators.
In the earliest days of his administration, Obama pushed for a $60 billion investment in schools to help keep teachers in classrooms as state and local budgets were slashed in the wake of the Great Recession. They’ve since poured $2.7 billion into competitive grants for teacher training, brought teachers and principals into the Education Department as full-time employees to help influence policy, and called for a STEM master teacher corps, which became law under ESSA.