WASHINGTON, DC – Released yesterday, President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal focuses on closing achievement gaps and increasing equity and opportunity for all students. In response, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, made the following statement:
“Closing educational gaps brings economic gains.
“The national high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, but more than 4,000 students still drop out every school day. Additionally, students of color and students from low-income families continue to graduate from high school at rates much lower than white students.
“Throughout his administration, President Obama has made high school reform a priority. In his Fiscal Year 2017 budget, he continues this commitment by proposing a new $80 million Next Generation High Schools program while also setting aside $174 million for turning around low-performing schools, including high schools with graduation rates at or below 67 percent.
“Ensuring that more African American, Latino, and other students of color, as well as students from low-income families, earn their high school diploma is a critical first step to putting those individuals on a path to success. And because students of color and students from low-income families now represent the majority of the nation’s students, it is also a critical element of a growing national economy.
“According to data released by the Alliance for Excellent Education, increasing the high school graduation rate to 90 percent for African American students would increase the gross domestic product (GDP) by $2.5 billion annually and create 14,350 additional new jobs. Doing the same for Latino students would add an additional $2.3 billion in annual GDP growth and create 13,650 additional new jobs.
“To assist students from low-income families, the president’s $120 million ‘Stronger Together’ program would fund voluntary efforts by school districts to increase socioeconomic diversity in pre-K–12 schools—a research-based proposal that has shown to improve educational outcomes for students from low-income families while costing less than more traditional approaches.
“The recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind, requires school districts to focus on low-performing high schools and close graduation rate gaps between white students and students of color. President Obama’s budget proposal doubles down on these reforms to ensure that low-performing high schools receive the research-based interventions and resources they need to ensure that all students develop the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the twenty-first century.”
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship. www.all4ed.org.