Offers and Throffers: Education Policy under Obama
In the field of education policy, the Obama administration managed modest financial investment to induce policy change but also triggered pushback from the states. I unravel Obama-era education policy in two key areas: No Child Left Behind waiver and the Race to the Top grant program. Expertly managing the strategic opportunities conferred by lack of congressional action on education policy, President Obama reshaped the relationship between federal and state governments through the strategic use of threats and offers. Yet, he also presided over the expansion of state-led initiatives that were partly aided and partly hindered by federal measures. The president overcame principal–agent problems to induce dramatic change, but provoked a backlash that will reduce opportunities for future administrations to enact their education policy agenda.