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UPDATED: Obama’s $12 Billion Boost for Community Colleges

By Michele McNeil — July 14, 2009 1 min read

President Obama is planning today to announce a $12 billion infusion into community colleges to jumpstart progress to a new goal he’s setting to increase the number of graduates by 5 million by 2020.

According to the Washington Post‘s article, the breakdown for the $12 billion is: $2.5 billion for construction and renovation at the nation’s community colleges, $500 million to develop new online courses and $9 billion for “challenge grants” aimed at spurring innovation at the colleges.

UPDATE: According to excerpts of Obama’s remarks, distributed by the White House, the President is calling this the “most significant down payment yet on reaching this goal in the next ten years. It’s called the American Graduation Initiative.” And to pay the tab, Obama says: “We pay for this plan by ending the wasteful subsidies we currently provide to banks and private lenders for student loans, which will save tens of billions of dollars over the next ten years.”

Obama’s announcement is well timed, given the latest jobs report my colleague Catherine Gewertz blogs about over at High School Connections.

And if you’ll remember, in a February speech, Obama set a new goal that the United States will be No. 1 in the world for college graduates by 2020.

Still, we’ve heard very little from the Obama administration (including EdSec Arne Duncan) about how to boost high school graduation rates, specifically, especially given that high school is the gateway to postsecondary education. In May, Catherine explored this issue, and whether the 2020 goal is realistic. Clearly, the $100 billion in education aid that’s wrapped up in the stimulus package may indirectly help improve graduation rates, but so far, stimulus money is supporting the status quo rather than reform—and the status quo isn’t going to boost high school, or college graduation, rates.

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