As America relies more on minority workers, African-American and Latino students are lagging behind their white peers and dropping out of school at higher rates. This loss of human capital takes a toll on the entire country. The nation’s higher education system must be improved with streamlined student aid procedures and increased emphasis on math, science, and language studies.
For higher education, the next President should mount a determined effort, in concert with states and local school districts, to boost the academic performance of low achievers by:
- make college education more attainable for low-income students by simplifying the grants process and reducing inefficiency in the distribution of financial aid
- encourage universities that receive federal dollars to fashion responsible ways to measure student progress and track college costs
- create federally funded fellowships in biology, chemistry, and physics that require recipients, after graduation, to teach high school for one to four years
- create a signature program of federally funded fellowships not only to support students who study critical foreign languages, but also to build much-needed capacity within the Departments of State, Education, and Defense
Opportunity 08 aims to help 2008 presidential candidates and the public focus on critical issues facing the nation, presenting policy ideas on a wide array of domestic and foreign policy questions. The project is committed to providing both independent policy solutions and background material on issues of concern to voters.
Esther Care, an education expert at the Brookings Institution, calls the A-F grading system “nonsense.” “Grades are mere proxies for what we value. What we actually value is our children being prepared for the future,” she said. “We need to find ways in educational assessment to convey information about the degree to which they are ready to venture out and to deal constructively with the huge challenges posed by our 21st century.