“The future is ours to win” was a major theme in President Obama’s second State of the Union address on Tuesday. President Obama focused primarily on his efforts to increase jobs and strengthen the nation’s economy, but he took time to emphasize the critical role a quality education plays in realizing those goals.
Obama called on Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) swiftly, but shied away from discussing the specifics he and Education Secretary Arne Duncan released last year in their Blueprint for Reform. NAESP supports moving forward with ESEA reauthorization and providing school districts relief from current federal policies. For example, at next week’s Federal Relations Conference, K-8 principals from around the nation will meet with legislators to discuss two legislative recommendations: investing in early childhood development and high-quality principal mentoring programs.
Obama also took a moment to emphasize the importance of teachers in the classroom.
In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next 10 years, with so many baby boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math. In fact, to every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child—become a teacher. Your country needs you.
It’s hard to argue with this sentiment. All schools and educators need support from the community and their local, state, and federal legislators to improve and grow.
While the education portion of the president’s address was brief, it served as an important reminder to Congress that he continues to view education as an economic issue. NAESP agrees with this notion and looks forward to working with Congress as it considers the reauthorization of the ESEA.