The Obamas’ impact on public education

Rachel Krumholz, Feature Editor

After two full terms, Barack Obama is officially out of office, but it’s important to recognize what both Barack and Michelle Obama did to change public education.

“Public education is definitely endangered,” says freshman Henry Eberhart. “Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has already cut a lot of education funds.”

Funding cuts are evident within high schools nationwide. Just last year, Rauner announced that he wanted to cut education funding by $74 million a year for all Chicago Public Schools.

However, throughout his terms in office, President Obama fought funding cuts for schools. According to the U.S. Department of Education; The President’s budget request reflects his strong belief that education is a vital investment in the nation’s economic competitiveness, in its people and in its communities.

“Schools are more than money. We are more than economics,” says AP Government teacher Darlene Gordon. Gordon is also in opposition to all the potential funding cuts throughout the country.

In addition to trying to provide more money for schools, Barack has also implemented and furthered various nationwide standards for students.

Though he did not implement it, Barack was completely in support of the Common Core Curriculum. This curriculum is a set of standards that provide specific learning goals for students.

Common Core has been extremely controversial. Those behind the idea believe it is a good way to see where a student needs to be compared to their peers. Those who don’t believe in the standards might see it as simply teaching to the test, as Common Core resulted in more standardized testing.

            “I feel like in the grand scheme of things common core is harmful to a student’s education.” says sophomore Caelen Behm. “It makes students try and quickly learn information since teachers are forced to teach to the test.”

The No Child Left Behind Act, which was signed by George W. Bush in 2002, had many flaws. In 2015, Obama signed a law that revised the act. The revision gave more power to districts and states so that they could make more decisions regarding their schools.

According to the New York Times, “The new version, renamed the Every Student Succeeds Act, also bars the government from imposing academic requirements like the Common Core.”
Although Obama was able to make revisions, many remained unhappy with the act. “Why should I be held responsible for what my students learned or didn’t learn before coming into my classroom?” asks Gordon.

The act is known to have focused primarily on standardized test results by holding teachers accountable for the success of their students on these tests.

However, not only changed public schooling, Michelle Obama is known for her influence on keeping kids fit and healthy by targeting school systems.

“Michelle Obama has helped public education by improving each student’s health,” says sophomore Anna Termolen. “She has done this by implementing nutrition standards into school lunches.”

Michelle Obama has also advocated for the education of girls and African-Americans. She regularly encourages students to work hard and to make school a priority.

Furthermore, she is a big believer in the arts, especially because many schools are cutting art funds before anything else. At the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, Michelle explained that the arts inspired all students to dream big.

With recent frustration within Evanston due to Trump’s Inauguration, a liberal Evanston will miss President Obama and his family greatly. With Donald Trump in office, it’s unclear what changes might happen in public education. He has mentioned little regarding what he wants to happen to schools across the country.