Your thoughts on President Obama's education agenda
U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his State of the Union speech on January 24, 2012.
January 25th, 2012
11:02 AM ET

Your thoughts on President Obama's education agenda

By the Schools of Thought Editors

(CNN) Education was one major focus of last night’s State of the Union address.

President Obama talked about the value of good teachers, stemming the tide of high school dropouts, the cost of college and a path to citizenship for some students.

You can read the transcript of the entire speech here.

Here are some excerpts from the speech that focus on education:

On Teachers:

Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.

On the Dropout Crisis:

We also know that when students aren’t allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.

On College Costs:

When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars. And give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.

Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. 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…

On Students, Immigration and Citizenship:

...Let’s also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: The fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. 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… I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration… Let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.

We’d like to know your opinions on the president’s education agenda as outlined in his State of the Union speech.  We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving your comments below.


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soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Jonathan

    I think that it is sad that as a teacher of an academic class, I would not be able to find a job. Many of my colleagues who teach Math, English or Science have either been laid off or forced to teach classes of forty or more. However, when browsing job listings, there is no shortage of job postings for coaches. It seems that they are in high demand despite the educational cuts. What has happened to our education system? Apparently sports have now become more important than an actual education that would enable a student to become an actual contributor to our society.

    January 28, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  2. rowena villaverde reyes

    cease the sociological and social psychological norms , diminish stound of formal education, focus on the great curiousity of students....Improving technology competency ... Rowena Villaverde Reyes...

    January 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  3. zedan

    Children bewitched miracle God Sobhan

    January 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  4. shocka

    I recommend watching Waiting for Superman.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  5. Stephanie

    Having a plan is great, but putting it into action is something else! I will be impressed when politicians start doing what they spout off about!

    January 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  6. Keith

    You mean we don't get to bash under paided and overworked teachers anymore so that Mitt Romneys and hedge fund managers can steal their salaries to pad their own wallets? Sheesh. All the fun is being sucked right out of life. What is FauxNews going to be able to rant about if they can't rant against hard working middle class Americans in order to promote the profits of the plutocracy?

    What ever happened to that basic American value "greed"? Nothing but a bunch of liberals trying to destroy that basic American value and replace it with destructive values like education and society.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  7. outsider

    haha... strangely missing in numbers, the typical obama bashers... are they confused by Obama's plans, not knowing whether to bash him or bash education.

    January 27, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  8. MacDav

    The above obama plans to build a welfare state.He will think for and tell you what to do,bye comrade oama 2012

    January 26, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  9. Phyllis Royster

    The President is young enough to understand that there must be creative, motivating and challenging ideas to inspire a new generation of learns. We must allow the President to do his job to fix what was so badly damaged after eight years of ruins.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  10. Bob

    The only real solution is a tiered educaation system that many countries already utilize. Give entrance exams into the middle grades and high school. If a student shows that they are academically capable, they will advance towards the university route. Those that are not as academically capable should be placed on a technical certification or trade route. An example of this would be a student from a low education family background that does not get the support from home. They show by testing that he is behind grade level, so he is placed in a welding/HVAC/mechanic/etc program that gives him an opportunity to get a job once he completes the program. The majority will be job training, but it can be supplemented so that the student gets a basic education designed to allow them to be a productive member of society. The biggest issue will be the affluent parents that think it is their child's right to go to college and those groups that will claim racism since it will be a majority of minority students in this program. Not everyone belongs in college.

    January 26, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Chris

      This is an absolutely horrible idea. Your idea works on the assumption that kids have a static level ability. That is not true.

      I was getting C's and D's in grade school. In high school I got straight A's. Then I graduated from a top 20 national university with honors. I am very glad that my education wasn't based on your idea, or I would have led a very different life.

      January 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
      • Jessie

        Thank you Chris!! Perfect example. I was shocked at what a horrible idea it was and was so glad to see your post.

        January 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Jonathan

      I agree. Let’s begin to teach children at an early age that it is a privilege to go to school. If you just want to mess around, do not waste tax payers’ dollars. If your parents really want you to continue on after making bad grades in your earlier years of school, let them take on the financial responsibility and pay for your higher education. I worked myself to death trying to make good grades all the way through school… It is not fair that other people who do not care get the same privileges. Education is not a right. It should be earned.

      January 28, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  11. USamerica64

    Still does not address the real issue. You can have great teachers all over the place but as long as children, parents and society refuse to take responsibility for their own actions or lack of actions nothing will change. That is the real issue. A school does not become bad, it's the neighborhood it draws from that determines success/failure. You can be the greatest doctor in the world but the patient has to follow the doctor's advise. Same thing goes for teachers and students. We need to hold our own children and society as accountable before we see real change. Holding teachers only as accountable will not change the situation enough to make a real difference. The other issue is our society needs to finally realize that not everyone is ment to go to college and start having vocational schools once again.

    January 26, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  12. call me what you want

    For college cost, perhaps students should start looking at the value of a degree. I am sorry but when you sign up for college to attain a degree, perhaps you should do your homework and actually see what the possible incomes are once you graduate. Why spend such a large amount of money on an education, which is an investment in your own future, that has such a minimum ROI. This is something all of those students who have graduated, jacked up huge loans on useless degrees and have no marketable skills should evaluate. Your skills and education make you a commodity. Just because you love doing something doesn’t mean it’s a marketable skill. Get an education that will be profitable so you can afford to do what you’re passionate about in life. Obviously there are exceptions but it’s a gamble. If you take the gamble and lose prepare to pay.

    It’s simple math. If you sign up for a degree that will cost you a 100k + and has a starting income of 50k and tops out and 150K, on average, then it’s a good investment and wont be difficult for you to pay off. If you sign up for a degree that costs a 100k+ and starting pay is 35k and tops out at 50k, then you didn’t make a great choice and you should be prepared for it to take you much longer to pay it off.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  13. Bixi Belle

    The above comments give proof of the 'Dumbing Down of America' that has been in place since the 1960's. Spelling and grammer have been given the back-seat. SAT scores started dropping as schools dropped dress codes and discipline. We are depending on these 'un-educated' graduates to become our leaders in the next 20-30 years. We used to be a world leader when it came to education, today we are sadly low on the totem pole. I have watched this 'dumbing down' for the last 50 years and it breaks my heart to see my country fall.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:07 am |
  14. KeninTexas

    When it comes to the cost of college, I'm a bit of a socialist on the issue. I think that if students put out the effort and maintain a good grade, then they should get free college education at the very least, the first 2 years but ideally, the full 4 years. This wouldn't be a hang out simply because they are unemployed, they have to put out the work. The cost will be returned to society by the much improved and educated work force of the future.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  15. student

    As a student in school, I think I mostly agree with the final statement in the quote on college costs here...colleges NEED to stop raising tuition so much! More loans to pay costs that will just rise again, I still will be in debt. Yes, college is enlightening and worth it but the barriers to entry into any technical field should be working hard through a rigorous education, not working hard to pay a per-credit fee.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  16. Lyn

    I don't agree with the requirement to grad or turn 18 since due to his wording this could be used to attack homeschooling families. A large percentage of home school kids "graduate" early and start collage classes well before 18. To force us to place our children back into the public schools where they did not thrive and say sorry but you can't leave until we say is not the governments place.

    Who are they to take our parental choices away? Instead of making in mandated for all to stay in school why not fix the reason most drop out anyways? Better schools, teachers, and lower student teacher ratio would do alot for the drop out rate.

    January 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Justin

      Lyn, It says "until they graduate OR turn 18."
      So if they graduate early, more power to them. He's not out to get you, you know.

      January 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • MV

      As a high school teacher, I am not sure how I feel about this. Of course I would never want a student to drop out of school, but at the same time, the traditional school setting is not a one size fits all remedy for all students. We need to offer students a variety of ways to earn a high school diploma, even if they did not attend a regular high school.

      January 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  17. Chase Gentry

    Theres nothing wrong with going to collage to earn an education!! theres lots of issues & problems: Most Americans can't afford it, everybody doesn't want to study to become Rocket scientist, Biologist, or Chemist!! these are the 3 top job catagories with tons of openings in America! Most Americans didnt recieve the accurate type of classes in High School to even consider presuing these types of educations. American Public Schools simply cant affoed to teach everybody top notch & higher acheivments or breakthroughs in Science and Technology!?!? The High Schools are so far behind in there teachings that Average Americans don't even understand these topics?? this is why we continue to notice more and more Forigners presuing these HI-TECH jobs with high paying salaries!? In Alot of other countries, there High School teachings, are far more advanced than Americas, whenever it comes to Advanced Science and technology!

    January 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • MV is evidenced by your lack of spelling skills.

      January 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  18. Daniel Ward

    Of course teachers matter but we need to prove that they matter by paying them appropriately. To encourage people to become teachers we should also subsidize training. The February issue of Language Magazine ( has some options/suggestions.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  19. Thomas

    ", I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen."

    How would this work? Throw drop-outs in jail? That's not really a good solution

    January 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Rae

      It's a very good proposal . In order for students to drop out before they turn 18 they would need a guardians' signature which most likely will deter people from dropping out. Which would result in more kids graduating and heading to college where they'll earn a degree , become members of the work force and add revenue to our econmy. Soundss like a descent plan to me. Obviously what is being implemented now isn't working.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Amused

      An approach that is already tried and true is to deny drivers licenses to students who drop out of high school! This many not be the most popular choice , but it IS effective!

      January 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
      • Educate

        I Agree,

        Set a high school pre-requisite exam to enable them to pass before they can get their driver's licence.

        January 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Educate


      That's the point, you are too dumb to understand what the President is saying, you should have stayed in high school until you were 20. It's simple, keep on repeating grades or subject areas until you get it. You people should be happy that the President is interested in your kids to be wanting this for them. I am sure his kids are doing just fine, and probably will soon be ready to go to a top league work it out, its for the kids' future.

      January 25, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  20. usamerica777

    making the school sysem acedemically sound by chaning the infrastructure to updated technology is neededandlong over due GODSPEED!

    January 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm |