Willie Elliott was close enough to President Obama to take this photo, when the President visited the University of Kansas last month. But, while being in close proximity to a sitting president is always a pretty big deal, the best part was the opportunity to bring attention to some of the issues we care about most, at AEDI, including the imperative to place higher education within reach of all American children, and the urgent need for a restored path to upward mobility and the American Dream. The University highlighted Dr. Elliott's work in its media activities surrounding the visit, and AEDI was featured prominently in some of the resulting coverage.
Willie's comments included doubts about the wisdom of the President's particular approach to increasing college affordability by making community college free, a move which could serve to funnel low-income students to these institutions, which have poorer completion outcomes, to an even greater extent than currently. AEDI also spoke with some about concerns about the President's (then) proposal to tax 529 college savings, which, while the immediate financial effect would be borne mostly by the wealthy households who disproportionately use 529s, could serve to depress asset accumulation for education, a development that would obviously concern AEDI.
We believe that there is considerable common ground to be found in a policy agenda that legitimately advances the interests of middle-class (and aspiring middle-class) American households. We are grateful for the chance to leverage the attention afforded by the President's time in Kansas to some greater momentum around the changes we think could particularly aid these families and change the calculus about who gets ahead--and how--in the United States today.
And, being part of a historic event was pretty cool, too.
Happy Presidents' Day, everyone!