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Cause Magazine • Special University Supplement IN THE NEWS


President Obama on Education


During President Obama's first address to a joint session of Congress on February 24, 2009 he spoke about the economy, the recovery plan and his goals for America as we confront our


many challenges. Along with the financial crisis, energy, and health care, education is one of his top priorities. The President recognizes that it is another imperiled aspect of America’s future well being:


“In a global economy, where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a path- way to opportunity. It is a pre-requi- site. Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma, and yet just over half of our citizens have that level of educa- tion. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation, and half of the students who begin college never finish.


This is a prescription for eco- nomic decline, because we know the


countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive educa- tion, from the day they are born to the day they begin a career. That is a promise we have to make to the children of America. Already, we've made a historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We've dramatically expand- ed early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life. We've made college affordable for nearly 7 million more stu- dents, and we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children's progress. But we know that our schools don't just need more


resources; they need more reform. That is why this budget cre- ates new teachers -- new incentives for teacher performance, pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We'll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.


It is our responsibility as lawmakers and as educators to make this system work, but it is the responsibility of every citizen to par- ticipate in it. So tonight I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be a community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.


And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself; it's quitting on your country. And this country needs and values the talents of every American.


That's why … we will pro- vide the support necessary for all young Americans to complete col- lege and meet a new goal: By 2020, America will once again have the


highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That is a goal we can meet.


I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is


why, if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation [Serve America Act] that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch, as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country, Senator Edward Kennedy. These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children, but it is up to us to ensure they walk through them…”


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