State Of The Union Touches On Hot Topics In Education

Jan 25, 2012


President Barack Obama gave education a fair share of attention during the State of the Union address last night.

The talking points:

  • Require all students to stay in high school until they are 18
  • Extend the tuition tax credit
  • States should make higher education a priority in their budgets
  • Reward good teachers and keep them on the job
  • Give schools flexibility so they do not have to teach to the test

Mr. Obama has said in the past that he hopes the United States will be number one in the world when it comes to having the highest percentage of college graduates. “Higher education can’t be a luxury – it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”

But “college for all” is a hot topic right now. Some educators argue that not everyone wants to go to college, or will necessarily succeed in college, and policy makers need to define success more broadly beyond academic achievement tests and AP tests and include valuing job-ready skills in students.

Instead of making vocational education and career and technical education an option in high schools, Obama wants to address job training by creating partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train Americans with specific skills that lead directly to jobs. As of now, Mr. Obama believes business leaders can’t find American workers with the right skills to hire.

In terms of teachers, the Huffington Post reports that both the leaders of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association were pleased with the speech. Obama spoke about the role a teacher plays in changing students’ lives, quoting a Harvard study that said that a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by $250,000. He said schools should have flexibility to reward good teachers and replace ineffective teachers.

This article was originally published on on January 25, 2012.