Taking the Pulse of Education

Posted by Paula Paine on February 9, 2011 in education, "School of Education"

Excerpts taken from an address by President Barack Obama on Higher Education and the Economy at the University of Texas at Austin in August 2010.

In a single generation, we’ve fallen from first place to 12th place in college graduation rates for young adults. . . Now, that’s unacceptable, but it’s not irreversible . . . The single most important step we can take is to make sure that every one of our young people has the best education that the world has to offer.

Now, when I talk about education, people say, well, you know what, right now we’re going through this tough time. We’ve emerged from the worst recession since the Great Depression. So, Mr. President, you should only focus on jobs, on economic issues. And what I’ve tried to explain to people [is that] education is the economic issue of our time.

 It’s an economic issue when the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have gone to college. Education is an economic issue when nearly eight in ten new jobs will require workforce training or a higher education by the end of this decade. Education is an economic issue when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that countries that out-educate us today will outcompete us tomorrow.

We can’t accept anything but the best in America’s classrooms. And that’s why we’ve launched an initiative called Race to the Top, where we are challenging states to strengthen their commitment to excellence, and hire outstanding teachers and train wonderful principals, and create superior schools with higher standards and better assessments.

But we also know that in the coming decades, a high school diploma is not going to be enough. Folks need a college degree. They need workforce training. They need a higher education.

. . . when I look into the faces of America’s young men and women, I see America’s future, and it reaffirms my sense of hope. It reaffirms my sense of possibility. . . I am absolutely confident that if you keep pouring yourselves into your own education, and if we as a nation offer our children the best education possible, from cradle through career, not only will American workers compete and succeed, America will compete and succeed