College Guide

Blog

February 16, 2011 3:49 PM Obama’s 2020 Graduation Goals

By Daniel Luzer

SomeOtherPresident1.jpg

President Obama wants America to be the country in the world with the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. We’re currently about sixth (or forth or twelfth, depending on how one measures). This isn’t going to happen.

According to an article by Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post, the country simply isn’t taking the steps it would need to get this done. This is without even considering the cost of college. As she writes:

…The country would need a 90 percent high school graduation by 2020 to meet Obama’s goal. To do that, you’d need 600,000 more high school diplomas in the class of 2020 (assuming constant population growth) than we had in 2008.
And to do this, we’d have to: substantially increase the number of struggling students reading at grade level by 5th grade, reduce chronic absenteeism, [and] conduct needs and capacity assessments of targeted schools.
If there is any chance to ever reach Obama’s goal, the country will have to pay serious attention to what happens to kids — especially the 23 percent who live in poverty — before they get to third grade.

As I’ve explained before, there are lots of reasons why the education goal probably won’t be accomplished, the most important being that he wants a lot of change but hasn’t provided much money, or policy to make that change happen.

In many ways, however, this is a perfect presidential goal. It’s ambitious but achievable. It would take a lot of effort but it’s not technically impossible to get there.

The other reason it’s perfect, however, is that the Obama administration cannot actually be held responsible for achieving this goal. If Obama is elected to a second term he will leave office on the morning of January 20, 2017. That leaves almost a whole term for someone else to screw this up. Obama set the goal and it’ll be up to someone else to accomplish it. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer