Letter From The President

Dear Sherri:

Thank you for writing. My Administration is working to ensure 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 education 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 learning and high-demand careers in our fast-changing economy.

Equipping young Americans with the tools for success must start at the earliest possible age. Today, fewer than 3 in 10 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program—and for many children, this lack of access to preschool can leave a shadow that lasts a lifetime. That is why I have proposed working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in early childhood education can save more than seven dollars later on—by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, and reducing crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, students grow up more likely to read and do math at their grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form stable families of their own. So we must do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life behind.

My Administration continues to make historic investments to strengthen our public education system, including our Race to the Top program—a competition that spurred states to make comprehensive reforms of their public school systems to prepare all students for college and career. Race to the Top focuses on what is best for our students by engaging state and local leaders and educators in adopting better standards that prepare students for college and career, turning around our lowest-performing schools, developing and rewarding effective teachers and leaders, and implementing meaningful assessments to track the progress of our students. Building on this ambitious program, I announced a new initiative to provide high school students with challenging and relevant academic and career-related learning experiences that prepare them for success in higher education and the workforce. With funding I have proposed in my FY2014 budget, we will reward schools that redesign teaching and learning in high schools to foster new partnerships with colleges and employers and strengthen classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math—the skills students need to thrive in a high-tech world.

To further reshape our educational system, we also need to reform the No Child Left Behind Act—a law that has helped advance accountability and expose disparities in educational opportunities and outcomes, but has labeled too many schools as failing and imposed too many unworkable remedies. Because America’s students cannot afford to wait any longer for Congress to act to fix No Child Left Behind, my Administration launched a new Federal-State partnership to provide states with flexibility to advance needed educational reforms in exchange for a commitment to raise standards for all students, improve accountability for low-performing schools, and help teachers and school leaders become more effective. A majority of states has now been granted flexibility from No Child Left Behind, and while states are required to maintain a focus on underserved students, they can move away from one-size-fits-all interventions and mandates to advance locally tailored solutions to do what is best for students.

The future of America’s economic strength is determined each day in classrooms across our Nation. To remain a global leader, 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 robust plans 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, providing meaningful evaluation and support for 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 youth and strengthens America for generations to come.

Thank you, again, for writing. To learn more about my Administration’s work, please visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/issues/education.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

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