| Jan 25, 2012
President Barack Obama shared his plans to improve American education in his 2012 State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 24, at a little after 9:00 p.m. EST. Below are his comments on education, excerpted from the speech’s transcript.
“…These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today. But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.
“For less than 1 percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we've convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning, the first time that's happened in a generation.
“But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.
“At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced states to lay off 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 the child who dreams beyond his circumstance.
“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 into 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. And 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. That's a bargain worth making.
“We also know that when students don't walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better. So tonight, I am proposing that every state, every state, requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.
“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 tuition tax credit we started that saves millions of 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.
“Now, 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…”
To read the transcript of the entire 2012 State of the Union address, visit WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU (updated link).