When We Talk About the Obama Legacy, What Do We Really Mean?

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

August 30, 2019

When We Talk About the Obama Legacy, What Do We Really Mean? 

After the first two Democratic Presidential Debates, one thing is clear: President Obama’s legacy took center stage among the candidates and the discussion. It would be difficult to miss the overt evocations, with his name mentioned more than 17 times during one of the debates, most frequently in relation to healthcare and immigration policy. 

Yet even when President Obama and his Administration weren’t being explicitly discussed, his legacy carried through in myriad policy positions, including the candidates’ education policies.  

We’ve heard Vice President Biden express interest in reinstating Obama-era desegregation guidelines. Senator Booker and Representative O’Rourke have expressed support for high-quality public school choice. Nearly every candidate has vowed to increase teacher pay. Each of these harken back to the policies and philosophies of the Obama Administration. 

From investments in higher education to enhanced teacher pay to higher ed accountability to a focus on turning around low-performing schools, President Obama helped to usher in a new era of providing increased resources and reforms for our nation’s schools. 

Despite political blowback, President Obama went against the status quo and promoted common sense policy reforms coupled with unprecedented investment – the effects of which can still be seen today.

One of President Obama’s greatest accomplishments was his tireless commitment to improving the quality of education and aggressively raising the bar for our nation’s public schools and students – especially for underserved communities. 

From K-12 to higher education, President Obama strengthened standards and accountability, expanded public school choice, and addressed systemic racial and socioeconomic inequities plaguing underserved communities. He coupled those with massive investments in schools, including a nationwide effort to better recruit, prepare, retain, and reward America’s teachers and school leaders, as well as record investment in higher education aid for students.

And the results were clear at every level. We saw record numbers of students graduating high school, improved student achievement in the lowest performing schools, the expansion of high-performing public school choice options, an increase in underrepresented minority college enrollment, and more resources being directed into classrooms – to name a few. 

Even today, in the face of an administration that has repeatedly proven to not have the best interests of all children at heart, we’ve continued to see these reforms sustain, and that is why it is imperative that we continue to champion President Obama’s agenda.  

Regardless of whoever wins the nomination, our Democratic leader needs to be as fearless as President Obama was in fighting back against the status quo for our kids and must be serious about raising outcomes for students. And while President Obama made excellent progress, we know there is still more to be done to ensure that every child in this country gets the high-quality education they deserve. Next week’s debate is another opportunity for candidates to show who is serious about building on President Obama’s legacy and aggressively improving outcomes for students.