2012 State of the Union address: Educational Discussion/ Activity

What educational issues were addressed in the 2012 State of the Union? Did you learn anything new from the speech? If so, share with us about the educational issue(s).

Suggestion: quickly research your specific issue online and then support your response with your researched findings. Make sure to reference the online resource and give credit to the author (include the web address where the reference is found). This strategy builds a larger reference about a topic in our blog discussion; allowing readers to learn more about what you know.

Also, include any concerns about the educational issues discussed in the address. What issues are you glad President Obama covered or what educational issues do you wish he had covered?

Do you have a suggestion to improve current or future educational issues that were talked about in the 2012 State of the Union address? We will learn more about the educational issues discussed in last night’s speech from each other’s opinions, experiences, research, and resources. Thank you for participating in the blog discussion/ activity.



Filed under Higher Education, Leadership

28 responses to “2012 State of the Union address: Educational Discussion/ Activity

  1. Jessica Acosta

    In Obama’s State of the Union Address he covers many issues dealing with our current situation in the educational system. First, he begins by discussing the great impact teachers have on students lives and how low teachers are paid for their hard work. His solution is to replace teachers that are bad and rewarding teachers that are good. He also agrees that teachers should not be defined by student’s test scores. He believes teachers should be able to be creative and enjoy what they do without having to stress about losing their job due to test scores. Obama’s second educational issue involves the students and the high drop out rate. His solution to that is a requirement that in all states, students are required to stay in high school either until they graduate or until they turn 18. Obama’s third educational issue involves the high amount of money students have to pay in order to go to college. His solution for this is to end all interest rates on student loans from doubling by July 2012. In addition to that, he will double the amount of work-study jobs on campus. This is going to reinforce students to get a job while going to college and will also bring relief to them knowing they are employed.
    I learned from this speech that although it seems as if congress doesn’t have much interest in helping our future generations, they are being proactive at finding solutions to help students, like me, make college more affordable. On the site, (http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/staff_report_college_affordability1.pdf) it goes into deeper detail about how congress will make education more affordable. In this address, the only thing that concerns me is his statement of making college more affordable, for I do not feel America has enough money to put forth. I am very happy with all of the issues he covered, especially the beginning topic of teachers being judged based on a stupid test score.
    Overall, watching this video has given me hope for the future. If I am lucky, I will be entering the educational field at the time all of these solutions are fixed; that is my hope.

  2. Victoria Palmer

    Obama actually cares tremendously about education. This was very shocking to realize because everyone talks about the government as if they do not care about education, and with all the budget cuts and higher tuition rates (which don’t have much to do with the federal government, I know) it can be easy to believe that the federal government has no interest in education. If he actually follows through on his plan of increasing incentives for great teachers, keeping good teachers, and getting rid of bad teachers, I think America will gradually build a better education system. One thing that I would really like to see him follow through on is making tests scores less important. He mentioned that teachers should stop teaching to the test, and that they should get more creative. If this were actually a possibility, and he followed through on it, America’s education system would become better because teachers would actually enjoy teaching, and students would enjoy going to school. This would help him in his plan of a lower drop out rate because if students enjoyed going to school, they would not feel a need to drop out. However, I feel there is an issue with his, “everyone must stay in school until 18,” plan because it would put that much less emphasis on a high school degree, and more emphasis on a college degree, overall lowering the amount of success for people with high school degrees. However, even though this is an issue, I do believe that our country would benefit from a more knowledgeable society: knowledge is power.
    It is very relieving to know that he has a plan to reduce student loan debt. On this website, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20126172-503544/who-will-benefit-from-obamas-student-loan-plan/, it goes into detail of Obama’s, “Pay As You Earn,” plan. Basically, the amount a student has to pay is lower, and it is adjusted to fit the citizens income so that they do not get thrown under water trying to pay back student loans. This is very important to me and my family, since there are two of us in college right now, with student loans, and it is nice to know that he is doing something about it. Obama also stressed the fact that it cannot be all the federal government’s responsibility to make sure that students do not have too much debt. He said it is the states responsibility to make sure that tuition prices are not too high, and in order to do this higher education must become a higher priority for every state.
    Overall, I really liked what he had to say. I just hope that he will actually be able to follow through on his plans.

    • Thanks for the post. I found it surprising that President Obama and Michelle only had a combined student loan debt of $120,000. That’s REALLY GOOD for a man who went to a private college prep school (Punahou School) and then Columbia University, and then Harvard Law School and a woman who went to Princeton University and Harvard Law School. There must have been other financially supporting variables that helped them keep their costs low. If you ever run into them, ask them for me and let us know. : )

  3. In the State of the Union Address, Obama spoke in great lengths about education in this country. The first topic that he discussed was relationship between students and teachers. Obama states that a great teacher can impact a student in many ways. He also states that teachers, today, are receiving low pay for the work that they do. The way that he suggests to fix it is to replace the bad teachers and reward the good teachers, and also stop teaching to the tests. This means, that teachers should be graded by the impact on their students rather than graded by test scores. The second topic was graduation and high school dropout rates. Many students drop out for many reasons and students aren’t graduating college due to financial reasons. The number for dropout rate has improved, but still is a big issue that needs to be addressed. Obama’s plan of attack is that every state keeps students in school until they are 18 years old or until they graduate. The third topic that Obama discussed in his address is debt, loan and credit card debt. Because of this debt, it is harder for Americans to pay off; interest rates are increasing, and harder for students to go to school. Obama has proposed to stop interest rates from doubling up this summer, double work study jobs, and help working class families. He also states a message to states to make higher education more important in budgets Obama made an announcement to colleges and universities that if they can’t keep tuition from increasing, and then their tax funds that they receive will decrease. Obama is saying that it is possible and everyone should be able to afford higher education.
    His speech was quite moving. He made really great points to help education and wake people up to the reality of the situation. I hope his speech woke up congress in saving and improving education in this country. I really liked his proposal for high school dropout rates. According to USnew.com, “One fifth of the country’s dropouts attended school in one of the 25 districts, mainly found in large cities [like] New York City and Los Angeles alone, more than 35,000 students dropped out of school in 2008” (http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/2011/06/13/national-high-school-graduation-rates-improve). I also really liked how he discussed that teachers shouldn’t be graded by their test scores. Those scores don’t explain and show everything that a teacher is doing in his or her classroom. Teachers should be graded on how they interact with the students, how they teach the curriculum, and how they prepare students for the future.
    Hopefully all of his proposals get passed and education can rise to the top. I do hope that good change will happen in education. I also hope that Obama’s solution get passed and work. His speech made it look like he cared for education in this country. Hopefully good things will happen in education.

  4. Jaime MacGil

    Ah ha! Now we have it, the key that unlocks the solution to our educational woes; increase the dropout age. There are a multitude of issues surrounding dropouts and age isn’t among them. According to a study done by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ( http://www.civicenterprises.net/reports/the_silent_epidemic.pdf ) the number one reason is boredom. This is followed by a lack of curriculum context, pregnancy, feelings of failure and a student’s financial obligation to their family. If age is to be addressed, indicators for potential dropouts can be seen as early as elementary school. The Department of Education has sited three early indicators to be aware of in students ages 10-15 ( http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/making-middle-grades-matter): (1) Poor attendance. (2) Withdrawing from or posting poor grades in English Language Arts and Math.(3) Racking up a record of misbehavior and suspensions. I believe the primary problem lies in a lack of ownership. Who will own education and all of the responsibilities that come with it? States continue to make educational cut backs while the federal government continues to make reforms where they dangle a financial carrot with the hope that states will “Race to the Top” to retrieve it. When did education become a race? A competition? It is time for the states and the federal government to embrace education as a team. We must put an end to poorly thought out mandates and listen to the complaints of our children if we are to see true reform. If we don’t, the only ones who lose the race are the children.

  5. Jacqueline Sutton

    I think that Obama made some really good points about our education and what he would like to change. He has convinced almost every state to raise their standards for teaching and learning. I think this is great, if we as a society can find different ways to help our students succeed and graduate with a diploma than we are not only helping them, but helping our economy grow, but to do this we need good teachers, administrators, and have to find a way to encourage graduation to each and every student.
    Obama made a great point about excellent teachers being able to raise our lifetime of earnings, from just a single class by a estimation of $250,000. If we as a nation can get this done with every class of students than we can turn into an even more powerful and wonderful country.
    I as a future teacher know they don’t get a well deserving salary, but teach out of passion. Obama mentions raising teacher’s salary’s because they help shape the future. Of course the teacher’s who don’t care about their students education should be let go, but like he mentions excellent teachers should be rewarded for their hard work. I think great teachers should be rewarded. A lot of times their hard work is over looked and not appreciated.
    Unfortunately a lot of students drop out of school these days and never return. Obama wants to make it a law that every school should make their students stay in school until they graduate, or turn 18. I think this is a great idea and believe by doing this our graduation rates will go up and hopefully have more students go off to college to receive a higher education.
    To receive a higher education can be expensive. Not every student has parents that can afford to get their children through college. Students who don’t have this help usually will put themselves through college with the students loans that are provided, but they want to raise the interest rates on these loans, which I think is ridiculous. Every person should have the right to an education and if we raise these rates than a lot of students will not be able to enjoy their career when they have graduated, instead they will be so far in debt to afford anything. Obama wants to lower interest rates on students loans, which is great because I as a student don’t want to have to pay back loans at ridiculously high rates. Obama also want to lower college tuition. Each year less and less parents are able to support their children through college, but yet every year tuition goes up for us. A lot of us want to go to school, but can’t afford it and the ones who do go to school will have to pay back ridiculously high student interest rates. I think it is great that he has focused on these issues in our education because it all makes sense to do these kinds of things and I believe that if these are done that we will shape into an even better nation.

  6. kylee spring

    Obama covered a lot of topics in his speech during the State of the Union Address. There is a lot I agree with but, a few I have questions about. I agree that teachers work tirelessly, spending their own money on school supplies for the students even though they don’t make that much. This hits home with me. I spend money on the class I work in, not only on school supplies but also on snacks for the students. Yes, we ask parents to help with supplies and snakes for the students but in this economy it’s hard for them just to make ends meet. The parents don’t have spare change to spend on snacks or additional supplies for the class. I agree with Obama on how teachers shouldn’t teach to the test but to be creative with their ways of teaching to reach out to more students. What I have questions on is, if he doesn’t want teachers to teach to the test then, how is he going to find out who the great teachers are that he wants to reward if there is no test involved. If teacher’s wages/bonuses depend on their students test then, I would think more teachers will teach to the test. I one hundred percent agree with his views on high school drop outs. Twenty one states already require students to say in school until they graduate or turn 18 but, I feel as though every state should be behind this (Levin). With today’s statistics being “7 of 10 ninth graders will get high school diplomas” (Levin) verses in 1970 the U.S. was the highest rate of high school and college graduates. Now we are number 21 is high school completion and number 15 in college completion compared to the other counties (Levin). This is amazing to me. I don’t see how Obama’s thoughts could do anything but good. Also if Universities keep down the cost of tuition, I feel as though you will see a rise in college graduates too. Obama had a lot of great ideas and I hope they go through with them.
    Levin, Henry M., and Cecilia E. Rouse. “The True Cost of High School Dropouts.” The New York Times. 25 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. .

  7. Jessica Weaver

    In the State of the Union Address, President Obama discussed many education ideas. The first idea that he described is called “Race to the Top.” States are to raise their standards for teaching and learning as part of this idea. Obama stated that “A great teacher can raise the lifetime earnings of a single class of students by an estimated $250,000.” If that statistic is true, and I do not have any doubts, then we should be keeping great teachers and letting the others go. The question is, how does the government figure out who the good teachers are. There are subjects that are not tested as much such as art, history, and other electives which would not provide any data as to who the “good” teachers are. And the quality of the teacher should not only depend on how many students achieve. For example, if a great teacher teaches in a lower income area where students are more focused on their next meal, if they will be able to stay warm at night, or other needs and they do not have the resources or technology that other students can afford, then will the students get the same scores as if the students did not have to worry about their meals and homes? I personally do not think that the students will. However, the teacher is the one that will be riffed. Is that fair?
    President Obama also talks about creating flexibility to schools to stop them from teaching to the test, which sounds great on paper, but then how is the government and the American people supposed to know where the students stand on reading, writing, and the basics. President Obama says that they are doing these things, but where are the logistics? I want to know exactly how these things are going to be done and how the kinks are going to work out. So, I went to the Obama web site and the white house website to learn more. They did not say anything about stopping teachers from having to teach to the test. That is unfortunate.
    As for the teacher incentives, I am all for it. I believe that teachers do need incentives to keep going, or they become burnt out. The only question is where is the money for these incentives coming from? The US is already in debt, states are in debt, people are in debt, so is this just another way to put us more in debt?
    The high school dropout rate is astronomical. However, it is a very hard decision to create a law that makes it illegal to dropout until a certain age. On one side, students should be in school. On the other side, if a student does not want to be in school, yet they cannot get out of it, they may make it much more difficult for the other students to learn and the teachers to teach. This is an ongoing debate and I do not know the right answer, but I do know that we really have to be careful about this decision.
    The students loan debts and the credit card debt are definitely something to worry about. It is sad when students continue to go to school because they cannot afford to pay their students loans. This is one of the reasons why the student loan companies have to double the interest rate. So, before we make it so that the rates stay the same, we should help students get a job in their career so that they can afford to start paying their student loans.
    As for the tuition, I completely agree that the tuition is way too high, but I think that one of the reasons it is so high is because of inflation. According to http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/infl ation, “US inflation eased as consumer prices remained in check last month, the US government said Thursday in Washington. While Americans paid more for food, housing and transportation, cheaper energy costs offset the increases.” This should not be the case. We have to fix inflation before we can fix the elevated tuition fees. If a college or University cannot make a profit and keep the professors teaching and University maintained, then they will not stay open. We have to realize that the colleges and Universities are trying to make ends meet, and we have to keep in mind that the problem for high tuition costs are just a small part of a big problem. I agree with President Obama’s idea to help students graduate more quickly. And I think that many Universities have begun to do this.
    Many of these are good ideas, but they need to be better thought out. There is no sense of logistics. And I feel that President Obama was rallying to special interest groups (college students especially) instead of understanding the magnitude of certain issues.

  8. Debra Cluff

    In his address Obama talks about some education points. One was that teachers should not teach to the test but be enthusiastic about helping students to learn. Also he pointed out that a single teacher can help a class to make over 250,000 in a year. I felt that was a very impressive number, and puts even more pressure on me as a future educator to motivate students to reach their full potential.
    Obama also addressed his concern for the dropout rate. He encouraged every state to make a law that raises the dropout rate to 18. Students will make more money if they graduate from high school. I believe that every school and state wants this goal. Even the Washoe County school districts moto is “Every child by name and face to graduation.” As I researched how Obama plans to bring this law about I found a site that talked about the skeptics of the idea of forcing every child to graduate school. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/franklin-schargel/obama-dropout-age_b_1240234.html . This website had many of the arguments that I thought of while Obama was proposing to keep kids in school. We as educators can’t force kids to stay in school. There are many outside influences that affect kid’s decisions for not going. For example, boredom, early pregnancy, financial needs of the family. I personally think gangs in inner city schools have an influence in dropout rates. I think Obama talks of ideals in this case but it’s not going to change when students stop going to school. The article says, “If America is to be globally competitive, it must have a high performing, highly trained, highly-technologically prepared workforce.” I believe that Obama thinks ideally so that he can believe that America can continue to compete in the World market. I read another article that further explained this concept to me. It is found at http://www.fastcompany.com/1691725/obama-wants-kids-in-school-longer . This article explains that Obama plans on extending the school year so that America can compete with other Nations. I think Obama needs to stop worrying about competing and just worry about getting the nation out of the pit we are in.
    The third issue addressed was getting more students into schools and stopping student loans from gaining interest. The nation is in more debt over student loans than in credit card debt. The nation needs to work on lowering debt so that we can become a more prosperous nation.
    The State of the Union was very informative. I learned that at least Obama doesn’t want teachers to have to rely on students test scores to determine how much they get paid. That is helpful because I don’t think that law makes any sense at all. I have a hard time believing all the things Obama says but I think he talks effectively to become popular with the crowd. Obama would do well to reward good teachers, but find another way than using test scores to affect that, because that can hurt the good teachers too. I think student’s feedback may be helpful. I think they can determine who the good teachers are and who doesn’t work well.
    Debra Cluff

  9. Collette Witt

    What I really loved hearing from the State of the Union Address was President Obama stating how teachers should have more flexibility in their teaching, and not stick to the tests. One of my fears when becoming a teacher is that I will be forced to stick with the books and an already made lesson plan for myself and not be able to let my creativity thrive. Or I will become too stressed on having my students pass these certain tests and in the moment of it all, I will lose that passion I’ve had for something that I’ve wanted to do since I was five years old.

    I found it interesting how he proposed that students should not be allowed to drop out until they turn 18 or have graduated. While that would be amazing, I wonder how something like that could be done and how much regulation we are adding. I hate to say this, but would those students forced to stay in school make it awful for those students who want to be in school? I mean a teacher can only make so much magic happen, the student has to put some effort in as well. This website, http://www.all4ed.org/files/GraduationRates_FactSheet.pdf, mentions WHY students drop out, and it states how they are not prepared enough when they come into high school. So instead of forcing a student to stay in school with something that’s too hard for them to understand, I feel like we should prepare them better for when they actually enter in high school. Let’s make it a smooth transition that will give students confidence that they can complete something. I feel like President Obama should be considering how to achieve a goal such as I stated instead of forcibly keeping students in school.

    I am not a person who knows much about politics, so I am looking forward to learning how the system works. I feel like President Obama stated many things in his State of the Union; however, I am unsure of what he will be able to accomplish.

  10. Julie Sauer

    In Obama’s State of the Union address, I was surprised to learn that people have an overall average higher student loan debt than credit card debt. We are always hearing about the nation’s massive credit card debt, but not as much about the even larger student loan debt (…or at least I don’t). This concerns me because as tuition increases, so does student loan debt. This may lead to a decrease in student enrollment and therefore a decrease in people with higher education degrees. According to Obama, about 4% of people with at least a Bachelor’s degree are out of work, compared to the national average of about 8.5%. This means that people with a college degree, especially a graduate degree, have a considerably higher chance of finding employment than those without one. According to Obama, for every qualified person with training in science or engineering there are two jobs available to them. So in addition to having a higher education degree, having a college degree in one of these areas increases your employment opportunities even more. The main problem, then, lies in the cost of higher education. We need more qualified people with college degrees, especially in the areas of science, engineering, math, and computer science. However, at the same time, tuition rates are increasing and people are acquiring greater student loan debt. Therefore, as the need for these qualified people increases, the high cost of tuition is restricting the number of people that can actually afford to obtain a higher education. In addition to the lack of people obtaining science and math based degrees, according to Obama, many of the students who are in these fields are international students. Once these students obtain their degree, they go back to their home country and improve conditions there instead of staying in the United States (about 47% of graduate students in Computer Science are international). So not only do we need more students studying these majors, but we need them to stay in the U.S. instead of just coming here to get an education and then leaving.

  11. Caitlin Harrison

    When President Obama begins speaking about the worth of teachers and how much they matter, I saw how much my experiences in the school system relate to what he was saying. I work at a private school as a substitute teacher for pre-school and pre-kindergarten classes as well as in the after school daycare and I know exactly what Obama is saying when he speaks of teachers digging into their own pockets for their classrooms. Teachers do work tirelessly and teaching, no matter what some people think, is a hard job. I know first hand about the low salary that teachers receive. Although, I am just a teenager and don’t need as much money as other teachers who have families to support, so I can only imagine the problems they work through daily with finances. I completely agree with the “teacher who changed the trajectory of our lives” and bashing the teachers comments. Schools do need better resources in order for the teachers to teach passionately, as Obama says. The better the environment, the more passion will shine through and the students will do better in class, leading to the dropout rate lowering and college entrance rates reaching a new high. Though I despise politics and dreaded watching this video, I can clearly see that our President cares deeply about the education system in this country and I completely agree with everything that he has to say about education and I am as proud as ever to be an education major and I have an incredible new hope for the future of education in America.

  12. Diana

    With all of the problems facing education in this day and age, it is surprising how much time was spent discussing education improvements in President Obama’s State of the Union Address. It was very refreshing to see the caring intent of the government in their efforts to improve education with the consideration of the staggering numbers shown in the president’s presentation.
    The president addressed the high dropout rates in America and proposed a solution to fix this problem. New legislation will enforce that students must stay in high school until graduation or the age of 18 is met making minors take a permanent residency to stay in school until they receive their diploma. This rule will allow for the job market in America to become even more competitive than it is today as more and more citizens will be qualified to hold various positions. With an increase of high school graduates will come an increase of college graduates which will create more demand on higher education. High school diplomas and college degrees will become of less value as they become m ore common and more easily accessible. College education will become a more realistic goal for families who had not thought so previously with the increase of financial aid to students. Our country currently has a higher student loan debt than credit card debt by nearly 1.5 billion dollars. With the increase of financial aid, and the competitiveness of the new job market, this number will surely rise if pay checks earned are not paying back student loans.
    Another important point made in the President’s presentation is the financial crisis of school budgets. He proposed to give schools the resources to keep good teachers in their positions and reward teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty in the classroom. In this effort, it would make it easier to replace the bad teachers once there is a standard of teaching set for each teacher to rise to. This feature will allow for the education program of America to blossom under the excellence standard teachers will be held accountable to. The increase of teacher performance will parallel student performance in the same respect. The level that a teacher holds himself or herself to is the level their students will mirror in the classroom making the learning environment continuous and stable. This goes for every level of teaching. A teacher at a lower level of excellence will produce students of a lower level of excellence where a teacher performing at a higher level of excellence will produce students who work at a higher level of excellence. Producing successful students in America will have a drastic impact on our need for foreign aid and technology. Having a base of knowledge to grow on in this country will allow for the United States to flourish on its’ own without the need of foreign intelligence and communication of technologies. The more new technology that can be produced in this country the better off we are, and that all begins with a solid education.

  13. Amy Urban

    Obama expresses concern with the way are education system is headed and has some suggestions to turn it around. Obama encourages teachers to be creative and not teach to the test which I find extremely important. He supports this by suggesting that states get rid of teachers that are not helping the students to learn and reach their full potential. Obama says that by raising the drop out age to 18 there will be more students who graduate. I completely agree with this idea because I personally think that more students would graduate if they didn’t think that they could be done with school two years earlier. Students might be more motivated to actually achieve a diploma from their schooling if they know they are going to have to be in high school the same amount of time anyway. According to the Pahrump Valley Times (http://pvtimes.com/news/nevada-high-school-dropout-rate-worst-in-nation/), Nevada has the worst dropout rate in the U.S.. The article calls high schools that have fewer than 60 percent of their freshmen go on to graduate “dropout factories”. Although this title sounds comical, I think that it makes its point very well in that a high school shouldn’t be called a high school at all if over half of the students do not end up receiving a diploma. The article also reveals that the state of Nevada as a whole only had a 51 percent graduation rate, that’s barely half! Because the dropout situation is so severe in my very own state, it was very reassuring that Obama also finds this to be a huge issue and has come up with a solution that may help. I hope that Nevada goes through with making this a law because at this point it couldn’t get worse and anything could help.
    I also loved the Obama discussed the issues in higher education. He encourages states to lower their tuitions and fees, shorten their programs, and make it possible for every willing student to get the education that they deserve. I also appreciate that Obama addresses the need for education that guarantees a job after graduation. He suggests that companies assist in paying for the education needed to fill the positions that need to be filled in their company. Overall, I think that Obama has some really great ideas involving education and I hope that his suggestions go into action. I fear that it will take a lot of time to see the results, but I hope that his suggestions will begin to improve the field by the time I graduate and step into it.

  14. Brandon Morales

    President Obama addressed many topics concerning education ranging from incentives for good teachers to lowering costs for tuition. While I agree with him that we should get rid of bad teachers and start rewarding the good ones, the part of his speech that particularly drew my attention was the part about lowering college tuition. I think that many of us can agree that costs have skyrocketed, making it difficult for a lot of people to fulfill their dreams and leaving others with huge student loan debt. In an article regarding Obama’s proposals, Mallory Grossman discussed why Obama addressed the costs of tuition. Grossman went into detail about his plan, but did not comment on what the affects of these proposals might have on states, universities, and colleges. Such parts of his plan include a 1 billion dollar ‘Race to the Top’ competition and increasing work-study programs to name a few. http://pittnews.com/newsstory/obama-administration-talks-college-tuition/. Obama’s goal is to allow every American to have the equal opportunity to attend college and achieve their aspirations. Coming from a low-middle class family, I agree with his desire to decrease college tuition. If it weren’t for student aid, I would not have been able to attend college right out of high school. Thanks to pell grants and state scholarships, I have not had to pay greater than $1,500 out of pocket for the last three years that I have been attending university. I have not even had to take out a student loan either. I do not know if Obama’s proposals will work, but I sure hope that tuition does not continue to increase as it may put more of a burden on me as I work full time and go to school full time just to get by.

  15. Adriana

    After watching the President’s State of the Union Address, the educational issues and plans of resolution brought up in the speech seemed appealing to the ear.

    I believe Barrack Obama’s Race to the Top (RttT) program is no better than the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The NCLB Act did not improve the nations scores and we are nowhere near meeting the goal set. Our nations capital standing at a thirteen percent state proficiency level, has not met the goal of NCLB, being that all states are to be at a hundred percent proficiency level by 2014.

    The program contains these key elements:
    1) Teachers will be evaluated in relation to their students’ test scores.

    2) Schools that continue to get low test scores will be closed or turned into charter schools or handed over to private management.

    3) In low-performing schools, principals will be fired, and all or half of the staff will be fired.

    4) States are encouraged to create many more privately managed charter schools.

    It is shown by research that ALL of these elements are problematic and just a stricter repeat of NCLB.
    1) Evaluating teachers in relation to student test scores will have many adverse consequences. It will make the current standardized tests of basic skills more important than ever, and even more time and resources will be devoted to raising scores on these tests.

    2) The curriculum will be narrowed even more than under George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, because of the link between wages and scores.

    3) There will be even less time available for the arts, science, history, civics, foreign language, even physical education. Teachers will teach to the test. There will be more cheating, more gaming the system. (Ravitch)


    Teacher importance was a topic that came to my surprise. Not only did Obama recognize the importance of a creative outstanding teacher, but came up with a plan to give great teachers incentives. When teacher incentives were brought up in the past, the main reoccurring problem was “theres no money.” Although Obama has prioritized the plan for incentives. “The Obama administration has proposed a dramatic funding boost for the Teacher Incentive Fund, or TIF, a program that supports performance-based teacher and principal compensation systems in high-needs schools. This increase in funds, from $97 million in fiscal year 2009 to $487.3 million in fiscal year 2010, would significantly expand the program to serve a greater number of high-needs schools and spur changes across the country in how teachers are compensated. The administration and Congress also provided additional support for the program with $200 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” (Miller)
    I believe that Obama’s resolution to high school drop outs is a great idea. Although there are some of the earlier ideas that will be conflicting throughout this process. It is safe to say that some students do not like school and he presents ways he will fix the problem.

    Keeping students engaged and on-track to graduation. One study found that when asked why they left school, about half of dropouts responded that they did not find school interesting, and over two-thirds reported that school did not motivate or inspire them. The Obama Administration is committed to investing in innovative dropout recovery and prevention strategies to better engage youth in their learning and to help them catch-up academically. The Obama Administration will support effective dropout prevention strategies – through $50 million committed to the Graduation Promise Fund and through reforms supported under the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which has passed the U.S. House of Representatives.These efforts include:
    Personalized and individualized instruction and support to keep students engaged in their learning and focused on success.

    Multiple pathways and credit recovery programs, such as high-quality alternative high schools, transfer schools, or career- and work-based experiences to help students catch-up and keep-up academically, and to get back on track toward a high school diploma.

    Better use of data and information to identify and respond to students at risk of failure, and assist with important transitions to high school and college.


  16. Everyone speaks about how we need to change our country. The answer almost always is education but very rarely does anyone present ideas of how to make that change a reality. It always seems like the only way to show effectiveness is through a test or there is not a way to pay for the ideas to make a difference in this country. As a country we have to commit to being good at taking test or being sincerely knowledgeable. If America does not choose either then as a country we will stay constantly behind the pack and behind in becoming and staying the power we once were.
    In the State of the Union Address President Obama mentioned that he spoke with several university presidents and how they are trying to keep cost down. The various presidents told President Obama that they are finding ways to lower tuition in order to make it more affordable for students to join and receive a higher education. By removing this obstacle of cost makes it possible for more student to be motivated in high school to work hard in high school in order for them to qualify to receive a college education.
    Each university and college is doing unique ways to lowering cost and these diverse ideas are prove that it is possible to make it affordable to go to school. According to Classes and Careers, schools in Texas are making it much easier and much more realistic for students to use online education, this cuts down on supplies and still keeps the level of the education high. In Arizona they are reevaluating the courses that a student takes, by doing this it makes it so the student is being as much cost effective as possible. This concept makes it so the student does not his or her time in classes that do not benefit them in their major and in their future career goals.
    President Obama is finding ways to improve the education in this country while not wasting money. This is a good thing because it will push college to do their job and educate and not simply become a profit making machine. The only question I have for President Obama is how he identifies great teachers, great schools without them teaching to a test.

  17. Maddie

    I noticed his point on rewarding good teachers, so I looked up another on of his speeches on this subject. There have been new programs, like Change the Equation, created by Intel that promote the subjects of science and math to kids. Another program that has helped promote education is Race to the Top. Race to the Top has influenced over forty states to raise standards in learning. This rise in standards was developed by governors – not Washington D.C.
    Obama wants to create one hundred thousand new teachers in the subjects of science, engineering, math, and technology because the Baby Boomer generation is retiring. He made the point that a good teacher can make such an amazing impact on students. He stated that a good teacher can increase a classes income by about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in their life time.
    I think that if tenure is less available, then evaluating teachers to filter out the bad ones which would make it easier for good teachers to get jobs. I also think that rewarding good teachers is important. Good teachers could very easily quit because their hard work goes unnoticed.


  18. Zach Malia

    In President Obama’s State of the Union Address, he discussed some key facts about the idea of education, and the concerns that have been occurring within education. The first topic he discussed was the Race to the Top program. I wasn’t entirely sure about what the Race to the Top program was, so I looked it up, and the program helps to prepare students so that they may be able to succeed in the college environment and the workplace (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/index.html). President Obama also discussed the cutting of many teachers because of the budget problems that universities have been dealing with. I felt that this was an issue that the President should have discussed in further detail because of the fact that many students are having to change their majors because of the lack of professors and teachers there are that are able to teach that course. Especially with the amount of programs that the universities are getting rid off, it has become even more difficult to maintain professors with the tight budgets that have occurred. In this article from the blog of the Daily KOS, it explains that because of these budget cuts, at least 2,500 staffing positions, including computer support personnel and literacy specialists, would be eliminated (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/24/959847/-How-much-can-we-cut-Nevadas-education-budget). This article also discusses that class sizes would increase while teacher pay would decrease just to save the district more than $400 million dollars (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/24/959847/-How-much-can-we-cut-Nevadas-education-budget). How can the class increase if the teacher’s salaries are decreasing? There would not be enough teachers to even teach the amount of students if this trend continues. The next issue that President Obama discussed was the impact a great teacher can make. He stated that a great teacher can, “raise a lifetime earnings of a single class of students by an estimated $250,000.” President Obama stressed the fact that teachers matter, because everyone within that building can identify at least one teacher that made an impact within their lives. Along with the importance of teachers, President Obama suggested an offer that would reward the best teachers and getting rid of those teachers who are not helping other children to learn. By doing this, President Obama feels that this will grant teachers more flexibility in their teaching and allow more creativity instead of catering to the standards the school has set for them. I believe this is highly valuable because the way that most schools are structured, there is no time for teachers to actually “teach.” It’s basically “preparing” students to pass certain tests that will allow them to go on to the next grade. I feel that awarding great teachers is not only essential, but will give them more confidence in their teaching abilities and want them to stay in the program longer because the teachers feel appreciated. However, for teachers to be great, they need to be “qualified” and there seems to be more unqualified teachers than qualified. Another issue that President Obama discussed was that he proposed that every state require all high school students to graduate. In order for students to succeed they need an education, and it needs to start early. If we allow students to just “drop out,” I feel that as educators, we are not doing our jobs. We cannot educate students if they drop out, so this proposal, I felt, is something that should be implemented.
    I felt that President Obama’s speech on higher education was well-spoken because the importance of higher education should not be something we want, it should be something we should all have. President Obama stated that it should not be a luxury, but a necessity, and I definitely could not agree more. If higher education was not only stressed, but also more affordable, I feel that more students would want to obtain this “right” that they deserve. President Obama also discussed that universities should also increase student aid by providing more work study programs. President Obama also stated that if colleges can’t start funding from going up, the funding from tax payers will go down. It may take awhile for funding to go down for colleges, but in order for students to actually want to obtain a higher education, it needs to be affordable. I felt that the issues that President Obama made on education were well thought out, and made me realize that education is not only important, but crucial to our society. I can only hope that others will understand that as well.

  19. Shawn Finn

    In the address, the President spoke on many things. It was interesting and I enjoyed hearing about all the goals he wants to achieve, with or without the help of Congress.
    I thought it was great that he wants to change the way teachers are evaluated. Test scores are obviously a very bad way to indicate a teachers effectiveness. Here’s a link to really great video about great teaching ideas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY. I’m not sure how mandating that students stay in school until they are 18 will help the drop out rate. What are you going to do? Throw them in jail? Fine their parents? There are larger issues surrounding drop out rates than age, as Jaime Macgil pointed out in her response.
    Lowering the cost of college seemed to be a very popular idea. However, it doesn’t really matter when you have to college for 8 years to be marketable. College has become an arms race. Prices would need to be quartered to make up for the time students spend under-earning. Colleges need to restructure. Cut the core curriculum, its a waste of time. It is essentially what a high school diploma is supposed to signify that you’ve already learned.
    I did like the idea of creating more work-study programs. Students should be working in a field related to their study. By working, I mean gainfully employed. This reinforces what they’re learning in their classes and gives them the job experience they are required to have to get a job after graduation. Volunteering is great and all, but it devalues a job position and is a huge opportunity cost.

  20. Katie Gettman

    President Obama stated that a great teacher can raise the lifetime earnings of a single class of students by an estimated $250,000. He said that a good teacher was someone who uses their own money in order to better their classroom. In the NYTimes their is an article called, “The Value of Teachers” and in it they discuss the differences between a good teacher and a bad one. In the article a good fourth grade teacher affects a student’s future greatly. A student is 1.25 percent more likely to go to college and 1.25 percent less likely to not get pregnant in their teens. With a good teacher each student is estimated to make $25,000 more throughout their lifetime.
    This article also said,a poor teacher has a huge impact on students as well. Having a poor teacher is just like a student missing 40 percent of aschool year.
    President Obama also spoke about students dropping out and having state requirement for students to saty in school until they graduated or turned 18. In my opinion this would be great as long as teachers were no longer held accountable for these student’s test scores.
    The average percent of highschool dropouts in the U.S. is 7. Just in Nevada it is 11 percent! That is the lowest in the nation. In Washoe County it is 2.6 percent (www.kolotv.com).
    Obama also spoke about college tuition and how if tuition continues to rise then state funding paid for bh the tax payers will go down. This is great for students now but not those who have already graduated. With lay offs still being done, especially around here, new teachers who cannot find a job in their own field are still unable to pay the minimum payment, if that, on their school loans. Obama said that without government action, the interest rates on Stafford loans will increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent by July 1, 2012. Again, new teacners without a job would be burried in debt before their first job as a teacher. Student loans are a bigger debt than credit card debt, but if the economy does not change drastically, then both debts will begin to rise more and more each year in my opinion.
    If I could ask President Obama one question, I would ask, “why if education is so important do jobs continue to be cut within the schools and then why are class sizes continuing to grow? It has been proven that smaller class sizes enhance children’s learning.”

  21. Beau Riley

    President Obama addressed the dire need for reform in the United States. He indicated that such a process begins with rewarding and keeping good teachers, and getting rid of “bad” ones. Obama encourages teachers, however, to not teach to the test and remain creative and flexible. With that said, how is it possible to measure merit? There are countless factors to take into consideration. The students assigned to a particular teacher at the beginning of the school year is a random process. Some may have the luxury of teaching gifted students, while others have more special needs students. How can a merit based system compare teachers in inner cities with teachers in suburbs? If President Obama wants to raise academic standards, then what is the system of measurement?

    According to the California Department of Education (http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr11/yr11rel54.asp), the drop out rate in public schools was at 18 percent. Essentially, one in five students in California will face severe disadvantages for the remainder of their lives. President Obama’s challenge to every state seeks to lower such numbers, and in turn, improve the future of America. This is especially important as we fall behind other countries in such rates. The goal would require students to stay in school until they graduate or turn 18. This brings about the question, “Which states will actually participate, and how many?”

    Lastly, President Obama addressed the ever present issue of college tuition. Personally, I know students who are buried in student loans, and face many years of payments. His proposal to Congress involved preventing interest rates on student loans from doubling this July. Also, he seeks to extend tuition tax credit and provide more work study jobs. In theory, such changes sound great, but I am doubtful these changes will occur. Students that decide to seek employment in fields like education face even greater difficulty in paying off student loans. Something drastic needs to be done in making college more affordable. This should, perhaps, involve rewarding students with high grade point averages and other exceptional credentials with lower costs. There are several issues facing education today, and I eagerly await the upcoming years of “change.” Despite the gloomy future of education, it does not change my desire to someday impact the lives of students.

  22. Megan Barrett

    This was the first State of the Union Address I have watched all of the way through so I don’t know if it’s common, but I was surprised to hear how much he was talking about education and how passionately he spoke about the subject. It gave me goosebumps to say the least. For myself, as well as many others who care about education, it was uplifting to know that such a pronounced figure is so concerned about the education system and children’s success. I loved what President Obama said about keeping good teacher’s working, rewarding great teachers, and replacing ineffective teachers. That absolutely makes sense. In any job, you receive a raise if you have deserved if. The same thing should apply for teaching. I can also agree with what he said about everyone having that one teacher that changed their lives. I have been lucky enough to have a number of teachers that made a large impact on my life. Educators should strive to be that kind of teacher and hopefully more will with President Obama’s proposed initiative.
    As a college student, I can understand as well as appreciate what he said about funding for college. If you aren’t lucky enough to receive assistance in school, you either take out loans or choose a different path. That isn’t fair to students. Doubling the amount of work study programs in upcoming years would be extremely helpful for so many young adults. Higher education should also be priority in state’s budgets or less and less people will be able to continue onto higher education. According to “Post Politics” Obama and his administration have already put this plan into action. “Without naming it, he referred to his administration’s signature school reform effort, Race to the Top, and credited it with persuading nearly all the states to raise their academic standards” (Layton & Layton, 01/2). The fact that it’s a project that it is nearly being set into motion makes it more promising. After recently learning a lot about the No Child Left Behind Act, I was extremely happy to hear Obama say, “grant schools flexibility to teach with creativity and passion, to stop teaching to the test.” Clearly NCLB was not working and it is time for something different!

    Layton, L., & Layton, L. (01/2). 2012 state of the union analysis: Obama on education. . Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/44/post/obamas-2012-state-of-the-union-analysis-education/2012/01/25/gIQACfw6PQ_blog.html

    -Megan B.

  23. Aimee Kelly

    For anyone needing a reminder that this is a re- election year, look no further than the 2012 State of the Union Adress. President Obama made sure to mention the achievements made during his term (the deal of Bin Laden, creation of jobs, and evacuation of troops from Iraq) but also made a point to look to the future. One such topic was the future of America’s future educational system.
    More specifically, the president commended good teachers, and encouraged the nation to do the same. In addition, he suggested the nation collectively “replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn”. By raising teacher salaries, said Obama, we are raising the future income of America’s educated youth by more than $250, 000 a class. A bill was proposed to keep all high school students in the classroom until their graduation (or eighteenth birthday). Post- graduation, he suggested more students peruse higher education, without the resulting debt. In an era where student loan debt is higher than credit card debt, President Obama asked state officials to make education “a priority” in their budgets. University administrators were encouraged similarly, stating “it is possible.” By doubling the number of work study jobs, increasing student aid, and making university budgeting a priority, Obama
    The speech then took an economic turn, continuing the same idea of bringing manufacturing back to the United States. By “turning community colleges into community career centers” he explained the populace could gain necessary skills while gaining an education. Jackie Bray, an attendee of the address, was used as a positive example of this technique. The educational part of the speech was rounded out with a simple statement: “Higher education can’t be a luxury — it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”
    While the speech overall was full of “we can do this”, the promises made are a little hard to believe. According to the white house website, http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education , the president believes very strongly in the continued education and improvement of the United States. This is shown through his reform plans for the k- 12 age set. Titled “Race to the Top” the commencement challenge changed things like standardized testing, opting for more in- depth, individualized tests. http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education . In the end, the goal is to re- establish America as one of the leading education systems in the world, from early childhood development to higher education. Part of “Race to the Top’s” purpose is to change and reform the goals and rules created by the No Child Left Behind Act, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/09/24/obama_education_reform_will_help_students_and_economy.html.

  24. Kathy

    President Obama discussed many issues in education which are important to me. The first being that teachers are extremely underpaid for the amount of work they put forth. Teachers are not only there to teach but many become life long role models to students. For students currently attending college, the pay rate for teachers does not motivate one to go into the education field. I know I personally did not want to admit to myself that teaching was for me because of this reason. President Obama suggests a reward system for teachers based off of whether they are a “good” teacher or a “bad” teacher. Determining this will be difficult however because some teachers may not be able to reach out to some students as well as other. This is an issue that must be looked over however what I find to be important, in regards to salaries, is future pay for those of us who intend to teach. The amount a teacher can receive in pay short be raised overall. That in itself will be incentive for current teachers to do better and future teachers to continue in their aspirations of becoming a teacher.

  25. Violetta Raborn

    I will begin by admitting that this was the first time I have watched a President’s State of the Union address. Unfortunately, the speech did not go into the depth and detail I would have preferred. Moreover, I am disappointed with the fact that a wide range of ideas were discussed and few solutions we presented. In regards to education, President Obama makes several good points: great teachers should be rewarded, barriers for students that want to continue their education should be removed, and young adults should be required to finish high school. However, the argument is not whether these ideas are good but how to implement them with effectiveness and limited resources.
    When President Obama spoke about great teachers, he mentioned that we should “give them (schools) the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones;” for the reason that, “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.” It’s true that great teachers can motive students to continue their education to earn more in a lifetime than a student who drops out of school. However, a teacher can only increase the lifetime income of a classroom if students graduate high school or pursue a higher education. Besides, how are we going to appropriately evaluate every teacher to determine whether they are good, bad, or great?
    President Obama suggests that we require young adults to finish high school or attend school until the age of 18 and I absolutely agree with him. Every person that I have spoken to that has not finished high school has come to regret it. Additionally, the obligation to obtain a high school diploma could result in more students pursuing a higher education. On the other hand, it could force schools to push students through the system and hand out high school diplomas to unqualified student because it is required. Moreover, who will be held accountable for students who do not go to school: the parents, schools, and/or student? I know of someone who told her naive mother she was going to school every day and ditched every other day; she did not make it through the ninth grade. In the other hand, I know of someone whose an award winning student despite the fact that his mother keeps him home to babysit his little brother while she gambles all day. In the first case, do we hold the student responsible or the school for not informing the parent until it was too late. In the second case, do we hold the parent accountable or the school for not intervening in the student’s behalf? And how would we know what issues are going on at home?
    According to President Obama, good teachers get their students to learn the material and motivate them to stay in school and earn that extra buck. Once he presents his brilliant plan to determine what a “great” teacher is, we should reward them, until then rewarding teacher is not the problem. There are teacher incentives already in place. Teachers are rewarded for their years of experience and their credentials. However, studies have shown that “no discernible relationship between a teacher’s experience and credentials and the academic gains made by their students during the school year” (http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/02/opinion/la-oe-winters-teachers-pay-20111002). Therefore, President Obama should have announced a reform of the current teacher incentive program, in order for schools to reward great teacher no matter how many years of experience or credentials they many have under their belts. This will help retain the good teacher we have now and motivate other to be better teachers. Moreover, it may help cut the teachers who are not intended to work in the education field or with children.
    In regards to barriers, it is good to know that there is concern about the high interest rates on student loans and the need for more work-study programs. However, when it comes to issues about money and resources, I believe that every department should work together. The government, state, and the school should minimize cost down to the energy efficient light bulb. School could develop more programs where even students could get involved, through volunteer work, to minimize the increasing tuition rates. Right now it cost more money for a student to attend a public school versus a private school. Tuition rate have raise approximately 8.5% between four-year colleges and two-year colleges, whereas as private school tuition has only raised 4.5% (http://chronicle.com/article/Rise-in-Sticker-Price-at/129532/). In the end, the question of whether the education system is successful will come down to money and resources.

  26. Karalyn Hardy

    This speech hit home for a lot of us I can tell, but something that was addressed that I see could truely be a response to the increasing numbers of high school drop out was the proposal he made at about 21 minutes. President Obama proposes that each state changes its laws to stop teenagers from dropping out of high school until they are at least 18. This would make a huge impact on what teenagers allow themselves to do when it comes to finishing their education. I find that this idea would really work.

    President Obama also addressed how great teachers need to be rewarded and how teachers that are not helping students learning need to be replaced. I find that this is an actual issue in the US becasue almost everyone can think of a teacher that they have had that was basically a “joke” and didn’t get any knowledge across in their classrooms. If these teachers were replaced and good teachers were more abundent, the education of today’s youth would be greater. Of course, this isn’t a simple task and the reality is that it isn’t easy to judge what teachers are great and what teachers aren’t because even the bad teachers can look good on paper. That is one concern I have with that.

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