REVIVING the American economy means deepening efforts to broaden access to education and improve our public schools.
President Obama’s blueprint for a second term in office, outlined in his State of the Union address Tuesday, connects a revamped educational system with a strong economy.
Obama proposes expanding federal support for preschool to all 4-year-olds from moderate- and low-income families. The idea is supported by considerable research showing quality early learning boosts graduation rates.
Putting students on the right academic track early saves school districts about $3,700 per child over the K-12 years in money not spent on remediation and other interventions.
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The challenge laid out by the president has already been taken up in the Washington Legislature. House Bill 1723 would expand the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, the state version of Head Start.
This is a good effort that ought not be compromised with a proposed tie to marijuana revenues. Early learning is important, but it was not the intent of the marijuana legalization initiative. Basic education should be redefined to include preschool and funding should reflect that.
In high school, students need better preparation for what comes next. President Obama proposes a new round of Race to the Top grants to encourage high schools to add more computer science, engineering and technology classes. Expectations would include more business and college partnerships offering students “real world” experiences. An emphasis on career and technical education in high school prepares students for the choice of higher education or the workplace.
Students who choose college struggle to afford the costs. Obama has urged higher-education institutions to hold the line on tuition.
Help for students comes by way of the administration’s College Scorecard, giving shoppers critical information about college costs, graduation rates, loan-default rates, average amount borrowed and prospective employment.
More needs to be done. Obama has proposed tying federal college financial aid to student outcomes, such as graduation rates. But states, including Washington, must first improve their support for public universities and colleges.