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Obama Talks Education in State of the Union
posted by: Alix | January 27, 2011, 12:42 AM   

President Obama devoted an unprecedented amount of time to education in Tuesday's State of the Union address. Using his yearly platform, the President put education front and center on the national stage and challenged the newly divided Congress to come together on this traditionally bi-partisan issue.

"This is our generation's Sputnik moment," Obama said, using the classic cliché regarding the 1960's launch of the Soviet satellite. According to Obama, the time is now to increase spending and make necessary changes in America education.

Although the President called for a freeze to federal spending, he advocated for increased "investments" in education. "Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine," Obama said. "It may feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you'll feel the impact."

Obama reiterated his plans for changing the nine-year-old No Child Left Behind Act, focusing on his March 2010 Blueprint for reauthorization. He framed the law's renewal as an attempt to build on the $4 billion Race to the Top grant competition, highlighting that the program's success as justification for a federal government presence in education.

"Race to the Top," Obama said, "is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation."

Obama also announced an initiative to recruit and train 100,000 new teachers in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering, or STEM subjects. He mentioned teachers throughout his speech, calling for young people to consider a career in teaching, particularly in the STEM subjects.

In fact, some of his strongest applause came from his rhetoric on teachers. "Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as 'nation builders.' Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones," Obama stressed as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan nodded in agreement.

Reactions regarding the speech were positive. Sen. Lamar Alexander, ranking member of the Senate's K-12 policy subcommittee told Education Week that reauthorizing ESEA "is an area where we can be bipartisan," adding he's "hopeful" for its passage.

Tuesday's State of the Union address was certainly a night to remember for those involved in education. Don't forget to read the AAE Federal Update and blog to stay informed on the issues.

What did you think of the address? Is the President on the right track?
Comment below.

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