Barack Obama's New Government: A Look at Policy

By Anonymous

The New Education Policy

Its time to take a closer look at Barack Obama's policies and funding, especially in the area of education. Obama has more than once reiterated that he wants to establish a modern education system that aims at performance-driven approaches to teaching, one that provides incentives for performance and holds teachers, schools and the government responsible for the results [Source: Guardian.co.uk].

Obama and the new Democratic Government is considering allocation of approximately 140 to 200 billion dollars as part of the proposed economic recovery plan to inject fresh life into the health and education sectors. Among these plans is an agenda that covers budgets allocated for building and maintaining schools, training of teachers, increase of early childhood education and increase in aid to college tuition and decrease in college loan debt. [Source: New York Times]. College tuition aid comes with a caveat community service of some kind by the student will be the qualifier to avail of it.  Visit the following article for additional information on How to Research Your Financial Aid Options.

The New Secretary of Education: Is he Mr. Right?

The man slated by Obama to be the next US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is currently the chief executive officer of Chicago's public schools. Mr. Duncan was chosen for his realistic and new approach to the revamp of Chicago's public school system, using diverse and innovative practices.

The favorable response to Mr. Duncan's selection, including that of the National Education Association and the Democrats for Education Reform (a New York-based group), indicates that there is confidence in his record of innovative approaches towards new charter schools, teacher incentive pay, higher achievement recorded in schools and calling for fund increases for public education and reform of the NCLB law.

If confirmed, Mr. Duncan will be responsible for the execution of the K-12 agenda proposed by Obama. Apart from that, one of Mr. Duncan's priority tasks will be to improve the realization of the No Child Left Behind Act and to renew its purpose.

His detractors, however, have reservations about his experience in handling college level education, particularly as Obama's policy on education also looks at expanding tuition loans to college students for the upcoming year. [Source: Edweek.org] The strongest criticism against him is that he shut down public schools and rendered teachers and support personnel jobless. [Source: ChicagoTribune.com]

Energy Policy

Obama has clearly said that the creation of a new energy economy and making energy reform the center of his economic plan is one of his governments first priorities. Obama has also stated his plan to spend approximately $15 billion annually to use unconventional energy and conservation methods to render public buildings more efficient, renovate the electricity grid, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions while conserving natural resources.

In what is seen as a radical move away from the Bush administrations policies, he appointed Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steve Chu and Carol Browner, a supporter of Al Gore, as his new energy and environment team. In contrast to the previous administration that saw the powers and budget of the environmental protection agency diminish and the doctoring of reports on global warming, the appointment of Browner, a veteran who headed the EPA under the Clinton administration, is seen as a move in the right direction, especially by the League of Conservative Voters who have hailed the two appointments as a green dream team. Browners first priority would be to put the clamps on carbon emissions that are detrimental to the world climate and she is expected to speed up efforts on laws to control car emissions. The EPA is to be headed by Lisa Jackson, who is a chemical engineer and has worked with environmental policy in an official capacity. Nancy Sutley has been tipped to head the presidents Council on Environmental Quality.

What implications do these policies have for the job market?

Seen first off, the direct result of the education policy would be the opportunity of creating new jobs for large numbers of qualified teachers as more schools are proposed.

Obamas proposal that teachers and schools be evaluated for performance will lead to independent evaluation methods, training opportunities for Train the Trainer kind of programs and tests.  The proposed economic stimulus package and the broadening of the No Child Left Behind Act will fuel the construction of new schools and the repair or extension of existing ones. This spells opportunities in the construction sector and the skilled maintenance sector. The energy and environment thrust of the new administration will lead to research opportunities, especially in the area of unconventional or alternative energy resources like wind, solar energy and biofuels, and  technology opportunities to increase the efficiency of buildings and reduce gas emissions.

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