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February Government Relations Update

February 13, 2012 by Rita Ferrandino

State of the Union During his 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama made education one of the focuses, looking specifically at four issues: college affordability, teachers, dropouts and job training.

  • College Affordability: The President urged Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling in July, to extend the college tuition tax credit and to double the number of student work-study jobs in the next five years.  To address spiraling tuition costs, he asked states to make “higher education a higher priority in their budgets,” and told colleges and universities to keep costs down, saying if schools “can’t keep tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down,” because higher education “is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”
  • Teachers: President Obama noted that “a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000.  A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to a child who dreams beyond his circumstances.  Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives.” He proposed giving schools “the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones,” and in return, granting “schools flexibility: to teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.”
  • Dropouts: President Obama proposed “that every state requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.”
  • Job Training: As part of a program to train “two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job,” the Administration has partnered with businesses and community colleges across the country, and the President urged Congress “to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers -- places that teach people skills that businesses are looking for right now,” while pledging to streamline unemployment and job training programs.

For more on the State of the Union and proposals on education and the economy, visit “A Blueprint for an America Built to Last,” and check out charts and graphs on the Administration’s policies here.

Budget Information With the President scheduled to release the FY2013 budget on February 13, the Department of Education has posted FY2012 state-by-state budget tables for agency programs that allocate funds using statutory formulas, including student aid to postsecondary institutions.  In addition to the funds shown, states and other entities may also receive Department funds awarded on a competitive basis. For further information, visit here.

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