President challenges states to cut college costs, support teachers, prevent dropouts and beef up job training
The U. S. Department of Education has released portions of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, which I have excerpted below. The complete address is at www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2012.
College Affordability: “When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Extend the college tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars. And, give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years …. Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part — by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And, colleges and universities have to do their part, by working to keep costs down. Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who’ve done just that. Some schools redesign courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it’s possible. So, let me put colleges and universities on notice: if you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can’t be a luxury — it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”
Teachers: “At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced states to layoff thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to a child who dreams beyond his circumstances. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging in their own pocket for school supplies, just to make a difference. Teachers matter. So, instead of bashing them or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: to teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.”
Dropouts: “We also know that when students don’t walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So, tonight, I am proposing that every state requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.”
Job Training: “I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity …. Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. My administration has lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now, you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers — places that teach people skills that businesses are looking for right now. And, I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that, from now on, people have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need …”
Do you think California should implement Obama’s ideas?