Cecilia Munoz, the White House Domestic Policy Council Director, visited the National Journal and Bill and Melinda Gates-sponsored event on education, “The Next America” to give her take on education.
She applauded her administration’s efforts to close the student achievement gaps, although she admitted they were not “narrowing as quickly as we need them to be” for Hispanic and black American students. Munoz plugged for the administration’s early childhood education initiatives and claimed that “the return on investment is huge.” She also stated that America has “to be investing specifically in communities where there are these gaps” between minorities and whites. Again, she said improving preschool education is crucial to closing the student achievement gap.
But, these efforts and initiatives will not be free, said Munoz and that “this is ambitious, it costs money…[but is] not going to add to the deficit.” Also, some of the problems facing minorities and postsecondary education were that “student aid by itself cannot solve this problem” and claimed colleges are trying to “bring down costs.” Yet, there was no mention of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and how they bring down costs.
One of the major hurdles to current education initiatives was that “this is Washington, a pretty dysfunctional town.” Munoz attacked opponents of Race to the Top, saying it “has been mischaracterized” as a top-down, federal government approach when it is a state-level program where “governors actually develop the standards.” Too often, she warned, “this conversation gets entangled in ideology.”
Contrary to polling, Munoz said that college remains an important part of advancing one’s income and yet this perception is getting across to minority students. This perception is on the rise because of an ambitious campaign by the Obama administration, which Munoz compared to an effective anti-smoking campaign to prevent young people from smoking.
And, addressing concerns about the Obama administration’s college ratings system, she said it “will be ready by next year.” Maybe students can check it out before they sign onto the Obamacare web site.
Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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