Three federal education policy updates

School funding cuts could be severe under sequestration.

As Congress nears a deadline to form a compromise and avoid sequestration, education stakeholders are hoping to avoid devastating school funding cuts that could put an end to some promising practices across the country.

A recent Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) webinar explored where some federal education policies stand, what President Obama’s second term holds for teachers and students, and what could happen if sequestration occurs.

President Obama’s education reform plans

In his State of the Union address, President Obama spoke of a pipeline approach to education reform, including the need for preschool education, revamping high schools, and examining college affordability and value for students.

Data show that for every $1 invested in early childhood and preschool education, governments save $7 down the road, said Phillip Lovell, AEE’s vice president of federal advocacy. That focus on education extends all the way to post-secondary schooling, and the president is “really trying to lower the cost of higher education. … By 2018, two-thirds of all jobs will require some type of post-secondary education. The president has really emphasized higher education since he’s been in office,” Lovell said.

The president also hopes to link institutions of higher education and businesses with high schools to prepare high school students for 21st-century jobs, so that students are ready to enter high-growth STEM fields.

Lovell said it is “thrilling” to see Obama call for a pipeline approach from preschool education up through college and beyond.

Stakeholders are hoping to find more education policy details in Obama’s federal budget proposal, which will be released soon and might include increases to state or local programs, Investing In Innovation, or Race to the Top, said Jessica Cardichon, AEE’s director of federal policy.

And by emphasizing high schools, Obama “acknowledges that [education] reform at the elementary level looks different than at the high school level, and we need to acknowledge that in our policy,” she said.

(Next page: School funding cuts and their impact on education initiatives; where NCLB reauthorization stands)

Laura Ascione

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