President Obama was re-elected Nov. 6, taking 303 electoral votes. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took 206. It is expected that Obama’s platform going into the next four years will continue his support of public education.
Throughout his presidency, President Obama has increased federal spending on higher education by $8.3 billion a year and has advocated for greater federal involvement in education. He also passed a stimulus bill in Feb. 2009 that was used to create a grant program called Race to the Top.
Race to the Top funneled $4.4 billion into competitive grants, which reward states that create the best quality of education. The latest winners of the grants were announced in 2012, bringing the total number of winning states to 22. Winners included Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. According to The Economist, states that won “had to adopt certain standards and find ways of improving recruitment, rewarding teachers, promoting charters and turning around the lowest performing schools.”
In his re-election speech, Obama stressed the need for greater universal access to education.
“We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers,” Obama said.
Differing in opinion on how to best address issues in education, Republican nominee Mitt Romney advocated for less federal government involvement in education. Romney ran on the platform that states should have jurisdiction over concerns in education and the federal government is best when minimized.
President Obama has said he plans to not only invest in education, but also to reform it.
“We’re going to give more money to those schools that are serious about reform,” said Obama in a 2012 interview with NBC. “We’re not going to let people make excuses and suggest that it’s just a money problem.”
Improvements to education have become more of an issue than ever for voters who have begun to lose faith in the effectiveness of public schooling. A Gallup poll released earlier this year found that American’s confidence in public schooling is lower than it has ever been, looking at data beginning in 1973.
Secretary of education Arne Duncan said during Obama’s term there has been more support for public education.
“There has been more change in state education in the past few years than in the previous decade,” Duncan said.