Last night, President Obama's State of the Union (SOTU) speech addressed major issues facing our nation and the global community, but none was more important than education.
Education was one of the most highlighted subjects of last night's speech, as Obama addressed everything from early childhood education to a new College Scorecard ranking system that was implemented this morning by the U.S. Department of Education.
The general public clearly supported the President's view on the importance of education - as part of the most social SOTU speech ever, education was the most tweeted theme of the evening, alongside other key topics like energy and jobs.
Here are some key takeaways from Obama's SOTU speech regarding education:
Pre-K: "Let's give our kids that chance"
"Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road," Obama said. The President explained that less than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program, and that the poor children, who often need the most help, lack access to top-tier preschools. Obama then proposed investing in early childhood education, and working with individual states to make high-quality preschool accessible to every child in America.
Encouraging Technology in High Schools
Obama proposed a "redesign" of America's high schools, to put students on a path towards good jobs and better prepare graduates with skills to work within our high-tech economy. He mentioned countries like Germany, who focus on giving their high school students the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges. Obama also highlighted the P-Tech school in Brooklyn, that gives graduating students a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering. The President's proposal also includes developing new partnerships between colleges and employers, and creating more classes focused on science, technology, engineering and math.
The College Scorecard
The U.S. Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency Center's College Scorecards were highlighted in Obama's speech last night and officially released today. This ranking system allows parents and students to, "compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck," Obama explained. These scorecards provide important information to users, about a college's affordability and value, allowing parents and high school students to make more informed college decisions.
Obama proposed a "Partnership to Rebuild America," which would attract private capital to improve and modernize the country's infrastructure. In addition to repairing and updating our ports, pipelines and bridges, Obama also mentioned building "modern schools worthy of our children," again highlighting the important role of education towards our nation's overall success.
Last night's speech focused on education more than many of the President's previous State of the Union addresses. Obama highlighted crucial reforms that would impact an Americans' entire education life cycle, from pre-k through college. Hopefully this signals the administration's plans to ramp up its efforts to improve our country's education system in the next four years.