March 1st, 2010
11:36 AM ET
12 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. SocialismBad

    So it's now the federal government's job to keep unmotivated teenagers in high school??!!! Give me a freakin' break!!!

    This is a LOCAL school issue and even more a PARENTAL ISSUE! Keep your stinking nose OUT of it Obama!

    Is there ANYTHING this buffoon doesn't want to mettle with????

    March 1, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. gt

    more waste of our money,,,, give them vouchers to the ones who want to get a educations,,, the rest are a waste of time and money..

    March 1, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. jules sand-perkins

    Who is to be held responsible?
    When we were told, before the revolutionary 1960s, that it was SOLELY the student's responsibility TO LEARN, our public education system functioned very well.
    With the loss of that philosophy, we lost our educational system.

    March 1, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. Bob in Pa

    Poor performing districts have already been shown to spend more per student that some others that fare much better. Throwing money at it won't solve the problem. It's time for a new approach, not sure what that should be, but it sure isn't just throwing federal and state dollars into an abyss and saying "see how much we care".

    March 1, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. How To Bankrupt The Nation-Put Dems On It

    Spend America into prosperity NObama.Spend/Spend/Spend.This POTUS will never stop.I thought HE said we needed to curtail spending.ALSO EDUCATION IS A STATE THING,NOT FEDERAL.

    March 1, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. Read the constitution

    Yes, these are noble causes. WE ARE BROKE. We are in unsustainable debt. Govt. needs to get smallers, and now!! Do you left wingers understand this? Who is going to pay off this debt??

    March 1, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. Suju, NE

    Is "education" not a part core conservative principles? Why do they fear education? Facts can harm their cause, i guess.

    March 1, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. fair

    Does Obama know anything else besides spending money? Why can he make changes to the system first? He is going to spend this country to bankrupt.

    March 1, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |

    With the Democrats why go to school,THEY WILL MAKE SURE YOU HAVE MORE BY NOT WORKING THAN THE TAX PAYING WORKERS.Drop out now and sign up for the entitlements,the dems will have you taken care of.

    March 1, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. Dieter Zerressen

    How about this for a national policy: if you don't care to expend the effort to graduate from high school you will never qualify for any kind of state or federal assistance like welfare, food stamps, etc. So go ahead and drop out but the taxpayer is done with you for the rest of your life.

    March 1, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. GenJustice

    The solution for this problem is:
    1. Two parent families
    2. Parent's involvement in their children's education
    3. Get rid of the gang's
    4. Parent's being home when the children get home
    5. No drugs/alcohol in the house

    March 1, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Nancy

    For those who critize what Obama did in the past, he sure has a mind and the ears to listen. Give the man credit. Just sit and think what would have happen if McCain got the seat. War War War and China Berry would be running the country for him also. Bush would have never let the building. So when you GOP's think about how obstruction is done to this country think of all the No'ssssssssssssss that is being passed around in Congress okay. How that your grandchildern will see your name in histroy as the sour losers in history.

    March 1, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Colin, RI

    Fair is Fair:

    You make a good point. Good thing we have a president who has been pushing for more parental involvement since the day he took office. You must have also missed this part of the article...

    "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. "

    As the spouse of a teacher in an underperforming district, I can tell you that directing more funds to the schools that need them WILL make a difference. It'd be amazing how much more effective teachers will be when they have the proper resources.

    March 1, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Suju, NE

    School drop-outs = FAILED PARENTS ! Don't blame the gov. if you are too careless.

    March 1, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Glennis

    If he really wanted to help, he'd first get rid of the intrusive and ineffective Dept. of Education. Then he could move on to tenure and the abolishment of teacher's unions which end up costing communities more than they're worth. Also helpful would be to have more competent teachers coming out of our colleges and universities than we now have. Some of them can't even put a cohesive sentence together. Lastly, no amount of money will change the fact that too many students are hampered by uninvolved parents and the cultures in which they live. Competent and motivated teachers can only do so much.

    March 1, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. Wake Up

    Parents: You need to do homework with your kids. You need to encourage reading...and not be lazy. Govt. can't raise your kids. I'm sick of supporting the lazy and unwilling!!

    Here comes King Barack again to SAVE your kids...just like he save the car companies, the olympics, VA governors race, MASS, NJ ....

    Obama = loser. His policies are outdated and proven wrong...but you obamabots only read left wing blogs in your basement.

    March 1, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "Today, when the kids go home, there's no one there."

    Exactlly, because both parents (and people in general) are working longer hours for less pay. This isn't the freekin 50's...and we can't go back...I really wish you conservatives would get that through your thick skulls. Claiming that it's all parents' faults etc. is a copout. You want to address the problem your way and get more parents home? Fine.

    First, let's start by abandoning the trickle-down economic masturbation that's led to consolidation of 95% of this country's wealth, assets and income in 2%-5% of the population and stagnant middle-class salaries.

    Next, let's overhaul the health care system so that costs are not rising 3-4 times the rate of inflation and insurers aren't jacking premium rates by 30%+ every couple years despite exponentially expanding profit margins...and let's use methods proven to work instead of ideological BS like tort reform, which empirical evidence shows doesn't change a d-mn thing about costs.

    Let's also throw in a bit of regulation for Wall Street, so the costs of my consumer goods are not inflated by the billions spent on lobbyists, excessive executive compensation (while those executives rip off the workers who are the ones really making me my investment income), investment gambling/shenanigans and, you guessed it, the obscene and rising cost of all that health insurance the employers are providing.

    And hey, why not raise the income level at which you can still deduct interest on your student loans from your taxes and provide other solutions for student loan debt.

    Then, just maybe, a few parents won't need to work until 8pm every night and send their kids home to an empty house after school (because day care is so f-ing expensive). Of course, you're rolling your eyes right now because you're sterotyping everything to heroine addicted inner city single mothers spitting out children like a queen bee for larger welfare checks, aren't you? Pig.

    March 1, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Dave

    Mike in MN, that is a great idea.

    March 1, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  19. Miss Independence

    Dearest Mike in MN: THANK YOU!!!!!! I think that is the best solution I have heard in a long long time.....

    re: Marie in MD: quit being so racist....also since DC has the WORST schools in the country (NYC close 2nd), why don't you clean up the broken glass in YOUR yard before you start slamming others?

    March 1, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. Marc

    'Fair is Fair – March 1st, 2010 12:03 pm ET
    When are we ever going to learn that we're not going to solve the education problems in this country simply by throwing money at it?
    The problem begins at home. It used to be that when kids got home from school, their parents would sit with them and go over their day's lessons and homework.
    Today, when the kids go home, there's no one there.'

    Albeit at first your logic seems way too frail, there's a truth in your argument. Parents (or those responsible for the minor) should get more involved in the education of their children.

    BUT, that does NOT exclude the government from doing his part.

    If this idea of the President is a money pit or not, then wait for the plan to be developed AND analyze it before criticizing it.

    March 1, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. all the news that's fit to omit

    Marie MD, I know for a fact I am smarter than you and your whole family.

    I agree with Obama on his OK'ing the firing of ALL those teachers in RI, but for anyone to state that our schools are under-funded is a moron.

    We pay enough and get so little in return thanks to the union hack teachers, sorry, for every good one, there are five bad ones.

    Lastly, Obama's kids go to a great school, NO PROBLEM, are you sheep aware that he cut funding for POOR kids that allowed them to go to that same school?

    Must have missed that FACT in the news..........

    March 1, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "So how do you go from increasing the high school graduation rate directly to everyone having a Ph.D.?"

    That's just the conservative straw man. They want everyone to think that liberals want to give everyone a Ph.D. Reality is, when you couple it with their blather about "dope smoking oprah watchers" and "lazy single mothers having babbies for welfare checks," it's all just a twisted freudian-slip-esque way of revealing that conservatives are afraid that the well-off white folk with land ownership, plenty of assets, decent income, etc., will have to start competing to keep it. You see, while they will throw out the "stop being a lazy bum" and "self-reliance" crap in reference to gov't helping the indigent or others who need a leg up to take advantage of the opportunities available in our society, the subtext is clear: "I've got mine and it's easy for me to keep it so long as I hold down potential competition."

    March 1, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. He saved the country

    The country is hovering over a bottomless pit...due to the stacking-up
    of the big banks vaults, bailouts for this and that and more money printing for so-called stimulus...Pres Obama will review the situation
    for a year or two and get back to us....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 1, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. wwf

    Might just as well put this here. The price of gas went up 23 cents in one week. Thr price of gas keep going up even though people are driving less. Funny how the speculators and oil companies just keep rolling in the dough right along with the ceos of the banking industy and wall street while everyone else can hardly make ends meet. Keep in mind that while the price of gas goes up, so does the price of everything else. Capitalism in its finest form. The rich screwing over the middle and the lower classes, yet are never, and I mean never held accountable. I wonder how many state politicians will not vote themselves a pay raise this year. I am sure that those in Washington won't. How many of you out there have recieved a pay raise in the last year that was worth the paper it was printed on or worse yest lost your jobs. Go green? What a joke. We have oil right here. DRILL IT. Creates jobs and the price of gas goes down. How many of you out there are going to be able to buy the "green cars"? This country is turning into one big joke that neither party is going to fix. Why not? Both are only worried about their party, not the American people.
    Have a nice day and look foward to great expensive summer. Especially when Exon let you know how much money they made the last quarter.

    March 1, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. Anthony

    I cant beleive you people can actually find something negative about THIS!

    Dont sit there and complain about "throwing money at the problem" or "accountability" when i bet most of you didnt complain about the budget for two wars, and you probably let your children sit in front of a television watching reality tv wasting away their brains.

    You people will be satisfied at NOTHING as long as it has Obama's name attached to it.

    March 1, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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