Obama focuses on education in SOTU
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, January 26, 2012 00:01
In the State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama announced a series of proposals, which included pursuing alternative energy, creating manufacturing jobs and tackling the divisive issues of economic inequality and immigration. Yet his education proposals garnered the most attention across social media, with 35,972 tweets recorded during that portion of the speech.
Obama called on states to take the initiative to improve their education systems. Schools should stop "teaching to the test," he said, referencing policies implemented with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. He also made the case that students should be required to stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.
"[W]hen students don't walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma," he said. "When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better."
But Obama's calls for reform didn't end at the high school level.
"When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college," he said.
Obama said Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt and called on Congress to stop interests rates on student loans from doubling, which is set to occur in July. He also argued that Congress should extend the tuition tax credit and increase the number of work-study jobs available on college campuses.
"Of course, it's not enough for us to increase student aid," Obama said. "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."
Obama said he had recently spoken to a group of college presidents who had achieved efficiency at their schools by redesigning courses and pursuing new technologies to help students finish more quickly.
"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," Obama said. "Higher education can't be a luxury. It is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford."
Obama also argued for a new policy on immigration, saying that it makes no sense to educate youth in our country and send them back overseas.
"Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation," he said. "Others came more recently to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else. That doesn't make sense."
In the Republican response to the address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels gave Obama credit for his pursuit of changes to the education system, despite heavy criticism for what he called Obama's "trickle down government" policies.
"Republicans tonight salute our president, for instance, for his aggressive pursuit of the murderers of 9/11, and for bravely backing long overdue changes in public education," Daniels said.