One of the centerpieces of the Obama Administration was its commitment to improve the schools of the United States. With a focus on those in the inner cities, billions was spent in the hopes of bringing about success to historically failing institutions.

By virtually every measure, test scores, graduation rates, college enrollment, the program was an utter failure.

President Obama had hoped that by expanding the School Improvement Grants program, an initiative originally created by President Obama, there could once and for all be tactile improvement for the children who struggle the most. But by virtually every measure, test scores, graduation rates, college enrollment, the program was an utter failure.

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The United State Department of Education published its findings last Wednesday, less than 48 hours before the appointees who head the Department would be replaced. Between 2010 and 2015, $7 billion was spent on the School Improvement Grants. Similarly, $4.35 billion was spent on the “Race to the Top” program, which was implemented under the direction of Barack Obama in 2009.

In creating the program, which focused on the most underachieving schools in the nation, there could be up to $2 million received per year, for as many as three years. The requirements for obtaining the money involved one of four options.

1. Replace the principal and at least 50% of the teachers

2. Become a charter school

3. Transforming by hiring a new principal and develop new instructional strategies

4. Have a new teacher evaluation program with longer schooldays


Before leaving office, Secretary of Education between the years 2009 and 2016, Arne Duncan had said this program was the “biggest bet” taken by the Administration.

Unfortunately though, it appears that the bet did not pay off.

Perhaps part of the biggest issue with the program was the schools were able to make rather insignificant changes and continue to receive the funding. There were some schools which made a strong turnaround, but those case were far and few between. Only 3% of the institutions switched to become charter schools, while 1% closed down altogether. With this, the vast majority, decided to make changes, which likely time was not enough.

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This recent report likely will help propel Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos to make changes towards school choice across the country. Rather than continue to pour money into failing schools, it is expected that DeVos will advocate for a voucher program and school choice.

Read the full report from the Department of Education here

What do you think? Should the American education system shift towards school choice across the board? Or should we continue to try to add money to the unsuccessful programs put in place under President Bush and President Obama?

Let HYPELINE News know what you think in the comments!

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