At a glance, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's 2008 campaign promises for reform of U.S. education were:
- Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward Teachers
- Reform for Kindergarten through High School
- Early Childhood Education
- College Affordability
Recruit Teachers: Obama will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.
Prepare Teachers: Obama will require all schools of education to be accredited. He will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively.
Obama will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.
Retain Teachers: To support our teachers, Obama's plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. He will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
Reward Teachers: Obama will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them:
- Districts will be able to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as a mentor to new teachers with a salary increase.
- Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities.
- And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.
Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests.
He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner.
Obama will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.
Make Math & Science Education a National Priority: Obama will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. He will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school - strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
Expand Summer Learning Opportunities: Obama's "STEP UP" plan addresses the achievement gap by supporting summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.
Support College Outreach Programs: Obama supports outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
Support English Language Learners: Obama supports transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.