Educational Reform: What Decisions Will the Next Administration Face?

Along with a new president, we’re expecting a new Secretary of Education and an entirely new administration in January. Regardless of who wins the upcoming presidential election, we all know that the solutions concerning educational reform will have to make education more accessible than it has ever been before.

So, which educational issues in the United States will the new president and his or her cabinet be tackling?

One essential problem that must be faced is how to make college affordable. Having a college diploma has become the prerequisite for pursuing the “American Dream,” but this dream has grown more and more distant as student loan debt has steadily increased. So far, the total amount of debt for student loans has reached $1.26 trillion, and continues to rise.

We all know that college isn’t free, so it all comes down to who’s going to pay for it. Would it be the individual, the state, or the federal government?

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have proposed solutions for this dilemma. Trump suggested a policy of debt forgiveness after fifteen years, and Clinton proposed debt-free college education at in-state, four-year institutions. Both ideas are palatable enough, but the question that both candidates must answer is “How?”

Others are focused on students even earlier in their journey to college and a career. In an interview with EdTech Times, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shared his ideals for the future of U.S. education.

“I would love to see the country unite behind the goals of leading the world in access to high quality Pre-K,” said Secretary Duncan.

Duncan also expressed his desire to raise high school graduation rates to 90 percent, and to have high school graduates prepared for college and careers. Lastly, Duncan explained that the U.S. must try to lead the world in college completion rates.

Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who was part of the last Bush administration, shares Duncan’s beliefs that college students must get in and out of college as quickly and efficiently as possible. She also holds fast to the belief that the foundations of this style of learning must be laid as early as pre-kindergarten.

To help support this need, Hillary Clinton has voiced her ambitions for universal Pre-K. Spellings agrees with this sentiment as long “we get Pre-K right before we expand it.”

Aside from the distribution of government funds across the K-20 spectrum, another major topic of debate is the continued use of the Common Core State Standards.

Trump has denounced the Common Core, saying he’d “get rid of them.” Clinton, on the other hand, strongly supports the idea of national education standards.

Spellings supports the idea of national standards, believing that it “makes sense,” and allows education to be done in both an efficient and cost-effective manner. She also believes that Common Core, which has become the standard for 43 states, makes it easier for families that move around to keep track of their level of education, specifically in the case of military families.

On the other hand, the current secretary of education, John B. King, Jr., is a noted proponent of the Common Core State Standards. The conversations around Common Core have been largely divided between Republicans and Democrats.

No matter what the outcome of the presidential election, the next administration will have a long list of educational issues to tackle come January 20. As Arne Duncan told us last week, “We can have lots of debate around strategies to achieve those goals.”

“But for me those goals aren’t Republican or Democrat. They should just be goals for the nation.”

Listen to the full interview with Arne Duncan:

Jocelyn Bermudez

Jocelyn Bermudez

Jocelyn is a freelance writer originally from sunny South Florida, where she was the Managing Editor of Axis Creative Arts Magazine and a Senior Academic Mentor at United Mentors. She is currently a student at Emerson College, where she spends her time refining her writing skills when she isn’t preparing for the famous New England winters.