Barack Obama’s Education Policy

A while ago, I sent an email to all the people who might be president in 2013. In it, I asked :

  • What is the most important thing you would do, as president, to ensure America’s future prosperity?
  • Relative to this, how important to America’s future prosperity is the goal of ensuring all children have access to affordable education?
  • What plans, if any, do you have to ensure that all Americans have affordable access to high-quality education?

Today, the first reply came in – from Barack Obama. No reply yet from any of the Republican candidates, though I suppose there’s only one that matters now.

I’ve reproduced Barack Obama’s letter below. I’ll comment further when I get a reply from Mitt Romney, or when I’m convinced I’m not going to get one.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

Dear Michael:

Thank you for writing.  My Administration is working to ensure all America’s young people have educational opportunities worthy of their potential, and I appreciate hearing from you.

There is no stronger foundation for success than a great education.  We must provide our children with the world-class schools they need to succeed and our Nation needs to compete in the global economy.  Our classrooms should be places of high expectations and success, where all students receive an education that prepares them for higher education and high-demand careers in our fast-changing economy.

My Administration has made historic investments to strengthen our education system, including our Race to the Top program—the most ambitious education reform our country has seen in generations.  Race to the Top focuses on what is best for our students by engaging state and local leaders and educators in turning around our lowest performing schools, developing and rewarding effective teachers, adopting meaningful assessments, and tracking the progress of our students.

To comprehensively reshape our educational system and better meet state and local needs, we also need to reform the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)—a law that has helped advance accountability and expose disparities in opportunities and outcomes, but labels too many schools as failing and imposes too many unworkable remedies.  Because America’s students could not afford to wait any longer for Congress to act, my Administration launched a new Federal-State partnership to provide States flexibility to advance educational reforms in exchange for a commitment to raise standards, improve accountability, and help teachers become more effective.  The first round of States to receive flexibility was announced in February 2012, and while they are required to maintain a focus on underserved students, they can now move away from one-size-fits-all interventions and mandates and instead do what is best for students.

The future of America’s economic strength is determined each day in classrooms across our Nation.  To be successful, we must cultivate a learning environment with an effective teacher in every classroom and an effective principal in every school.  Supporting a strong teaching workforce and inspiring school leadership is a top priority for my Administration.  In these challenging financial times for State and local budgets, we have worked to help schools keep teachers in the classroom, preserve or extend the regular school day and year, and maintain important afterschool activities.  My Administration has also put forward a robust plan to strengthen and transform the teaching profession through a series of investments to help States and districts pursue bold reforms at every stage of the profession.  This includes attracting top-tier talent and preparing educators for success, creating career ladders with opportunities for advancement and competitive compensation, evaluating and supporting the development of teachers and principals, and getting the best educators into the classrooms of the students who need them most.

Across our country, young people are dreaming of their futures and of the ideas that will chart the course of our unwritten history.  A world-class education system will equip our Nation to advance economic growth, encourage new investment and hiring, spark innovation, and ensure the success of the middle class.  Preparing our students for higher education and rewarding careers fulfills our promise to our Nation’s young people and strengthens America for generations to come.  To learn more about my Administration’s work, please visit

Thank you, again, for writing.


Barack Obama