WASHINGTON — Throughout the campaign, Barack Obama made many promises to the American people. Msnbc.com has chosen 14 of these to explain, explore, and track. See if the new president keeps his word, and vote on his progress during the first 100 days.
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Obama’s words: “I think it's important to foster competition inside the public schools. And we also agree on the need for making sure that if we have bad teachers that they are swiftly — after given an opportunity to prove themselves, if they can't hack it, then we need to move on because our kids have to have their best future.”
The issue: A recent study by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center showed that the average public school graduation rate is 58 percent. The study also revealed that graduation rates are 15 percent lower in urban schools compared to suburban schools.
During the campaign, President Barack Obama embraced several education ideas considered generally more popular with Republican candidates including extra funding for charter schools, performance-based pay for teachers, and layoffs for educators with poor performance evaluations.
While he’s opposed to vouchers to help parents pay for private schools, Obama advocates creating a new array of public schools for families to chose from. He’s proposed that the government spend more than $400 million a year on charter schools.
Following through: In his inaugural address, he pledged to “transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.”
Obama faced some controversy for choosing to enroll his two daughters at an exclusive and pricey Washington, D.C., private school.
On Feb. 17, the president signed a $787 billion economic stimulus plan into law.
Included in that recovery package is $44.5 billion in aid to local school districts to prevent layoffs and cutbacks, $25.2 billion to school districts to fund special education and the No Child Left Behind law for students in K-12, and $2 billion for Head Start.
On March 10, the president unveiled his new plans for education at a meeting of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He said he backs the idea of merit pay for the best school teachers — a position that union supporters have fought.
"It is time to start rewarding good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones," said Obama.
He also said that where the so-called "charter schools" have been shown to be successful, they should be encouraged.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has also announced plans to spend a record $5 billion to transform U.S. schools — including rewards for innovation, merit pay for teachers, and the creation of a national scorecard to identify failing schools.