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Columbia Missourian

State of education

One of my first projects for the Columbia Missourian was covering Gov. Jay Nixon’s State of the State address. As I listend to the President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last night, all of that education-reporting training kicked right back in. Thankfully, I didn’t have to live tweet this time around.

Instead, here are five simple education ideas from Obama’s speech, via CNN:

1. Yes, another rating system: the “College Scorecard”

You may remember the scorecard idea from chatter this time last year, and Obama announced that it would be released today. It can be viewed here. The “College Scorecard” will show, “where you can get the most bang for your educational buck,” he said.

 What will this mean for Missouri colleges? How will MU specifically rank in comparison? This will definitely be a story to follow. 

2. Preschool for all kids

“I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America,” Obama said.

Benefits of preschool he listed off included: saving money down the road, boosted graduation rates and reduction in teen pregnancy and violent crime. Columbia has a plethora of preschools, but what rate of young children in our area attend? What would have to change for all kids to have access to “high-quality preschool” educations?

3. Higher rewards for high-tech education

Obama didn’t have specifics for this idea, but he said he wants to “resdesign America’s high schools” to gear-up grads for a high-tech economy.

“We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math – the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs,” Obama said.

What would this reward system look like? Would Columbia Public Schools take part? Would this have an effect what careers students choose to pursue in college? All very hypothetical – but very pertinent – questions.

4. Better school buildings

Obama proposed a “Fix-It-First” program to create jobs fixing bridges and other infrastructure, along with a “Partnership to Rebuild America” to attract private capital to help. He said this could help modernize schools to be “worthy of our children.”

As someone who came from a high school actually held together with Duct Tape, I’m all for the idea of rebuilding and modernizing our delapitating schools throughout America. How would this pertain to Columbia Public Schools? Are some of our school buildings desperately out of date?

5. Last but not least, the GOP response:  More school choice, clearer financial aid

In his rebuttal, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, gave his stance on the state of education. He advocated in his speech incentives to provide Advanced Placement courses, more vocational training and increasing school choice, in particular for parents of kids with special needs.

An interesting note Rubio hit on was financial aid. As college students, school loans are thrown in our face constantly. Too often, however, students don’t really know what they’re signing on for. Rubio said he had just recently paid off his student debt of more than $100,000, and his situation is not uncommon. He also highlighted that more and more college students are nontraditional – single parents, veterans and people who’ve lost jobs, not just teens.

Financial aid shouldn’t “discriminate against programs that non-traditional students rely on – like online courses, or degree programs that give you credit for work experience,” he said.

Do nontraditional students at MU feel discriminated against by financial aid? That’s also a question well worth looking into.

As perusal with a political speech, I came away from Obama’s State of the Union with more questions than answers. If Obama stays true to his words, it will be very interesting to see how the state of education in Missouri evolves. I’m thankful to have a ring-side seat.

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About carolinebmn

Caroline Bauman is proud to be a University of Missouri student and an aspiring journalist. She is not quite as proud of her coffee addiction, however.

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