Parallel Thoughts

NPR on two implications of Obama's education ambitions

In last night’s not-State of the Union, President Obama set out some ambitious goals for American eduction, saying “I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.”

And so it was interesting to hear how two NPR shows explored the implications of Obama’s proposal. WNYC’s Brian Lehrer interviewed Michael Dannenberg, a senior fellow in the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation and editor of the Higher Ed Watch blog, about whether the plan was feasible, as well as the future of the No Child Left Behind Act.

WBUR’s Tom Ashbrook took a different approach, speaking with Alan Michael Collinge, founder of and author of The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History—and How We Can Fight Back, about the reforms needed in student-loan lending practices that would allow for students to attain the goals that Obama laid out. Collinge, a staunch critic of the lender Sallie Mae, likened students’ plight in the current system of regulation and subsidies to the predatory lending of sub-prime crisis.

Both segments take the conversation about education in interesting directions, and are deserve a close look, er, listen.

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.