March 1st, 2010
11:36 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama highlights federal funds to lower high school dropout rate


 President Obama spoke Monday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with the non-profit group America's Promise, which sponsors programs for at-risk children. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama highlighted stronger federal efforts Monday to help lower a high school dropout rate that, according to the president, is undermining America's future economic potential.

Obama noted that the administration has committed $3.5 billion in new federal support for underperforming schools. Among other things, the Education Department is attempting to encourage states to identify and take new measures to reverse trends in schools with graduation rates below 60 percent.

The Education Department's new "school turnaround grants" are designed to help 5,000 low-performing schools in the next five years. Obama's proposed fiscal year 2011 budget includes an extra $900 million for the program.

"Our kids get only one chance at an education, and we've got to get it right," Obama said. "If a school continues to fail its students, then there's got to be ... accountability. ... The stakes are too high - for our children, for our economy, for our country."

The president argued under-performing teachers will need to be replaced in struggling school districts. But more accountability and higher standards, he said, need to be matched by greater federal funding and more parental involvement.

Obama made his remarks during an appearance at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with the non-profit group America's Promise, which sponsors programs for at-risk children. The group is headed by Alma Powell, the wife of former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Colin Powell.

Roughly 1.2 million students drop out of school every year, according to the White House. About half of the dropouts are Latino or African-American, Obama said. As a consequence, the administration claims, the country loses almost $320 billion in potential earnings every year.

Filed under: Education • President Obama
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Caesar the Great

    All the funding in the world wont matter if the kids dont go to class. We need to start addressing the problems at home if we are to fix the problems with schools.

    March 1, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Stallion

    The Dems think that more money and more time solves every problem. That's their solution to everything....and it is DEFINITELY not working.

    March 1, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. Angie in PA

    Most of the hateful comments towards the President are from people from the south take Flitz in TEXAS for example everyone knows the South is way behind in Education I mean cmon those people still think Bush was great!

    March 1, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Dar

    Odumbo thinks that throwing money around will fix everthing. The problem is not so much at the school level, but at home where mom and dad are blind to what is going on around their children's life and think that it isnt their fault that their kids are not learning, SO...... blame the teacher's, why not, it looks as if Odumbo is right now.
    Parents have to get involved or nothing will change.
    Spend MO Money, MO Money MO Money. What a dumb peice of dung Odumbo is not the answer, he is the cancer.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    March 1, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. b in FL

    President Obama is the CHANGE we need in this country. He knows where are weaknesses are and is determined to find solutions to get us not only back on track but to pull ahead of other industrialized countries. We've fallen way behind in many aspects especially education which is evident in all those who will follow Faux News and the Repubs off the cliff! If Congress continues to block the President's agenda and nothing of value gets done we will be doomed as a country. Forget about the deficit which Cheney himself said doesn't matter, if we don't move forward our children and grandchildren will either need to learn to speak Chinese or they'll all be living on the streets.

    March 1, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  6. Linda

    I do believe the former Harvard law professor has a point. Go Mr. President!

    March 1, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Read the articles, Gopers.

    "Get rid of the bad teachers" – Obama said that. Guess what? it's not free to do that. It will cost a lot of money to weed out bad performing teachers, fire them and hire new ones, so stop pretending you've got the "common sense fiscally responsible" method on lockdown. You just ignore the costs your own knee-jerk ideological response would incur.

    "Parents need to be more involved" – Obama said that. It's a nice thought, but it ain't changing until the middle class gets some serious help in the form of lowered health care and insurance costs, better salaries and a debt relief in the form of lower interest rates, less abusive creditor behavior and something to help with relieving the burden of crazy student loans as a result of out-of-control tuition rates.

    Yelling about Obama spending money and that he should be doing X, Y or Z instead when

    (a) he said X, Y and Z and
    (b) X, Y and Z all cost significant amounts of money...

    ...well...all you did was bolster his argument that the education system needs some serious help.

    March 1, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. KLS

    To Fritz in TX:
    What's wrong with being a community organizer? Is it a bad thing to help your fellow American? Is it so terrible to want to volunteer to make your neighbor a better place for everyone?

    March 1, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. Dora Lee Owens

    If the school, your children attend is in a bad neighborhood; do what my parents did and move!!!!!!! There is no reason to live in a place where children are not safe. Make a change for your children.

    Teachers can not do a parents job.
    The government gives out aid to parents whether you live in intercity or the suburbs.

    Follow the education money outside the intercity. It is new and better world out there.

    Sometimes you just need "CHANGE"

    March 1, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. KLS

    To Jeff from Chicago:
    President Obama didn't come from a privileged background or have a rich family, like President George W. Bush. President Obama's education and hard work sets a great example to all American children.

    March 1, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Biased

    For those schools who are underfunded this may be a boost, however, in today's society why should high schools students stay in school if they figure there is no reason to complete their education when there are no jobs? If they are going to end up in a lower paying or part time job what motivation do they have in completing their education? That may be the wrong attitude but the climate has changed and in this generation, the incentives for higher education and better paying jobs is being totally eroded because there aren't any. In all reality the biggest source of new jobs has been the government itself rather than the private sector who now are so unsure of the future, they are reticent to take on new employees and you can't blame them.

    March 1, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. Wisconsonite - End the Anti-Trust Exemption for Insurance Companies!

    @La Chatte March 1st, 2010 12:28 pm ET

    "Barack W. Obama's lack of experience will now rear its ugly head in education and screw it up like everything else he touches. So very clueless!"

    Sorry, La Chatte, but you sound like the poster child for CLUELESS! Did you even graduate 8th grade???? Try turning OFF FoxNoise for a couple of minutes a day, will you??? Try uderstanding what's really going on so maybe, just maybe, you can contribute something thoughtful to the debate not just RABID OBAMA-HATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 1, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Wow well expect the same

    Hammerer March 1st, 2010 12:17 pm ET

    Has anyone mentioned to Obama the fact that between 15&20 million people are unemployed?
    Or does he care?
    Hey Hammerer, don't be so negative or for that matter stupid. Of course he cares and of course he and his administration are working on it. Just because it's not being reported by the media doen't mean it's not happening. God americans can be so impatient and short sighted. Why do people think our leaders are trying to distroy us or something like they don't live here also and have kids growing up here.

    March 1, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. J.P.

    Maybe we just need to get each of these drop-out kids a good set of teleprompters to follow them around and tell them the proper things to say... why, maybe THEY TOO can rise to the office of the presidency without having accomplished anything in their lives.

    Ah, just think of the possibilities...

    The Peter Principle + Murphy's Law + steroids = Obama

    March 1, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. Chip H

    First Texas, then California, and now Washington State (and others?) are being forced to adopt the Read Well program, which is developed and promulgated during the Bush Administration, since the company is owned by Neil Bush. The Bush's defunded the existing successful program and initiated the No Child Left Unfined equivalent to Nancy Reagan's Just Say No, which did nothing to curb drugs, but increased our prison population by 500%. Read Well is a culling program, that costs American taxpayers $2000 per student. Moreover, it's a white culling program, the mandatory testing is written psycho-culturally to disadvantage minorities and immigrants at kindergarten and first grade levels before they can attain parity with privileged groups. Neil is raking in $100M's of our dollars, creating a two-class education system, forced on teachers, to where they spend all their time in class teaching to the Read Well mantra, and as a result, we need a second-tier education program and funding to catch all the drop-outs. And this, of course, feeds into the Republican plan for private school vouchers, hiding behind phoney Christian 501(c)3's, so they don't have to pay taxes. Oh man, if you just spend the time to follow the money, this country makes you want to projectile vomit.

    March 1, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. JO

    No diploma, no driver's license. No passing grades, no athletics. No diploma, no Division I scholarship. Accountability, not $. And if they fail, the world needs ditch diggers too. Kids have a right to an education, not a diploma. If they (and their parents) choose to waste it, they can forever pay the price. Seems odd that those of us that went to schools w/o computers, overhead projectors, state of the art this-and-that ended up with better reading, writing and math abilities than the tech heavy schools of today. Money isn't the answer. Accountability is.

    March 1, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  17. Debby

    I agree with Obama on this one. There are alot of just plain bad teachers that don't care and just breeze their way through the school year to have summers off. I don't know of any parent that wants their child to fail.

    March 1, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. Jim - Michigan

    Why is the solution to every problem more money? The problem is teachers and their unions, period! Giving them more money is not going to help, but finding new ways to bankrupt this country will surely destroy us.

    Everytime more money is given to the Detroit school system, they buy more computers and before they are unpacked hundreds of them are stolen and guess what, officials nor police know who did it. Thousands have been stolen in recent years and no arrest have been made, so yea throw 900 million dollars at the problem, you will certainly boost the black market on laptop computers in Michigan.

    March 1, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. tmuiney

    It's harsh but unless you tie welfare and section 8 payments to school attendance you can spend all the money in the world. The parents need to be inlvolved. Nothing like a reduced check if junior decides to skip class to get mom and Dad interested in juniors education.

    March 1, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. valwayne

    Let's hope those kids stay in school and get good jobs. They are going to need them to pay for all the debt Obama is running up!

    March 1, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. change we can believe in ???

    Obama's approach is addressing the effect rather than the cause.

    It has been proven many times that money only has not helped the so-called failing schools to turn into successful schools.

    The issue should be addressed globally, considering cultural aspects such as the role of parental responsibility, the value of education to advance both as human beings and positive members of society, the promotion of role models, the rewarding for effort, using many other forms of recognition rather than money.

    The point is to promote the development of intrinsic motivation in the students. If we do not believe in education, no money in the world will help us.

    Therefore, governments should avoid those pernicious, "generous" policies that nullify personal-community efforts that "undermine America's future economic potential."

    March 1, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. JJ

    When students can see their parents sitting at home and doing nothing but living off the Federal Gov't (welfare, food stamps, housing, etc...) they see no reason to achieve success and drop out. It is a nasty cycle that will continue to repeat itself no matter how much money you throw at it. It starts and ends at HOME!! We are raising a generation with the belief that big Gov't is the answer to everything so why strive to achieve anything. The Gov't will give me free health care, a home, food, big screen TV, cell phone, car, etc, etc, etc....

    March 1, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. Monster Zero

    Right on! Power to the people man! Give me some mo' of dat Free money! It has worked so well, so far, for so few! Public schools are a joke, little more than public Daycare, how about a system that categorizes gifted children and one's that want to learn from potato heads and trouble makers. Gifted go to higher learning, potato heads and trouble makers go to trade schools. Oh that's right I forgot we no longer have a need for skilled tradesman, we have illegal Mexican immigrants.....

    Hey, wasn't President Obama's Chicago school system determined to be the worst in the Nation?

    March 1, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
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