Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State of the Union Address

While watching President Obama's State of the Union Address this evening, I realized again and again why I voted for him in the first place over three years ago. Not only is he an amazing, charismatic speaker,  but he stands for (most of) the things I believe in. As with any politician, I do not agree with everything he says, but no one will EVER agree with everything a president promises. 

However, education is a major issue in my life. I grew up LOVING school. My mom had to MAKE me stay home when I had strep throat because I HATED missing a day. That lasted all through college, where I only missed one day of classes. I just loved being there! Of course, wanting to stay in school, I became a teacher. I love working with kids each day and helping them become better people. With so many budget cuts, though, I have been worried each year since graduation about whether I would have a job the following school-year. I have been so fortunate each time, and much of that is in thanks to President Obama. He TRULY THINKS education is important at EVERY LEVEL. Even if you don't agree with our president's politics, please be thankful for what he is doing for education.

Here is an excerpt from tonight's address, spoken by President Obama about the years to come:

These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today. But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.
For less than 1% of what our nation spends on education each year, we've convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning -- the first time that's happened in a generation.
But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.
At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced states to lay off thousands of teachers. We know 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. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies -- just to make a difference.
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.
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 18.
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. Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who've done just that. Some schools re-design courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it's possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can't be a luxury -- it's an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.
Reading back through Obama's words makes me smile. And I know that many of my friends and family members are completely against our president. I don't care. I don't rub it in their faces (usually... except for this post) that I am liberal. I don't let our difference get in the way of our relationships. It's BEAUTIFUL that our nation is so diverse that we can all express our differences with no consequences. Isn't that an amazing thing? Watching the State of the Union Address was a wonderful experience for me tonight, and even if you disagree with Obama's politics, I hope you watched anyway, as being informed is an important part of the election this year.

God Bless AMERICA,


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