Washington, DC — In his State of the Union Wednesday night President Obama made several proposals aimed at improving America's education system that would affect students in pre-K through high school and on to higher education. The New America Foundation's Education Policy Program has experts available on the full spectrum of education policy areas to provide insight, context, and explanation of issues the president noted in his speech.
Experts are available to discuss the following proposals made Wednesday night:
• Preschool for every child
The president proposed to work with states and Congress to provide preschool to all children from low- and moderate-income families and to more middle-class families. The New America Foundation has easy-to-understand online resources that describe how states and the federal government are currently funding pre-K programs. See our pages on pre-K funding and Head Start in About Pre-Kindergarten. Our Federal Education Budget Project's PreK-12 database enables users to search for pre-K information by state and by local school district. Our experts can also discuss what this proposal would mean for Head Start, the federal government's pre-K program for children in poverty, which is already undergoing major reforms. See our recent policy brief, Reforming Head Start.
• Full-day kindergarten
Only 10 states and the District of Columbia require school districts to make a full day of kindergarten available. The president proposes to offer incentives to more states to do so. New America's experts can provide details on why full-day kindergarten is a critical piece of early childhood education programs, especially in light of new requirements of the Common Core standards that start in kindergarten. For more, see our recent commentary in Education Week.
• Redesigning high schools
The president announced a new initiative to promote college and career readiness at America’s high schools, with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and other 21st century skills. This competition will reward high schools that develop unique partnerships with businesses and higher education so that students graduate high school with real world job training -- or even with an associate degree. Experts at the New America Foundation have written about the challenges of ensuring all students are ready for college and the workforce and can speak to how these reforms could affect student achievement, graduation rates, and postsecondary readiness. See our Ed Money Watch blog for more.
• A new college scorecard
The scorecard is an interactive consumer information resource that allows students and families to compare similar colleges and universities so that they can make informed enrollment decisions. But consumer information only helps students if it gets into their hands and they know how to use it. Improving student choice in higher education has been featured on the program’s Higher Ed Watch blog, including an analysis of current resources from the U.S. Department of Education.
• Holding colleges accountable for cost, value and quality
The president proposed a focus on college affordability and ensuring students get the best bang for their buck. This requires data, accountability, radically rethinking how federal financial aid is used, and a new system of accreditation to allow for innovative models that will allow students to get faster, cheaper, and higher-quality degrees and credentials. New America has written extensively about all of these topics.
• Data: Higher Ed Watch contributors have written extensively on the need for better data, and held an event with U.S. Senators Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rubio (R-Fla.) on their bill to provide data in higher education.
• Accountability: Education Policy Program Director Kevin Carey published a New York Times op-ed on accountability for colleges.
• Financial aid: A report published last month includes a comprehensive proposal to rebalance the entire student financial aid system.
• A new system of innovation-focused accreditation: In addition to comprehensive coverage of accreditation issues on Higher Ed Watch, Deputy Director of Higher Education Amy Laitinen has published a report and numerous publications on the origins – and import – of the credit hour.
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Clara Hogan.