Blog: The Educated Reporter

State of the Union: What Will Obama Say About Education?

State of the Union speeches typically set lofty goals, and it’s not unusual for presidents to be short of the finish line a year later. You can click here for Associated Press reporter Erica Werner’s story on the subject, and here for a year-by-year review of President Obama’s track record.

Over at the Education Trust – a nonpartisan organization dedicated to closing gaps in a student achievement and opportunity — I like legislative affairs associate Lynn Jennings’ straightforward approach: “Students are counting on Obama.” Jennings, previously a senior program manager for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, hits Ed Trust’s sweet spots with her priorities: a renewed commitment to educational equity, making college an affordable option for all students, and the long-delayed re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The third item on this wish list is a political juggernaut expected to continue tying up committees on the Hill for many months to come. Here’s just one example: Some House Republicans call Obama’s centerpiece reform initiative Race To The Top  “a taxpayer funded competition based on bias and chance.”

Congress began debating the re-authorization of ESEA back in October, four years behind schedule. No Child Left Behind took effect in 2002, and was supposed to be up for review every five years after that date. Instead, Congress put off having those tough conversations, and has approved school funds on an annual basis.

On behalf of the Ed Trust, Jennings urges the re-authorization to be done “the right way,” so that all students have access to highly effective teachers and are prepared for post-secondary success.

If Obama does opt for any of Ed Trust’s priorities, Jennings writes, “we hope members of Congress from both sides of the aisle offer to work with him. Millions of students are depending on it.”

What words are on your Education Buzzwords Bingo card for tonight? The Alliance for Excellent Education offers some nifty versions on its Website. Among the winning words and phrases: High school diploma, inequality, waiver and teacher. Given First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation, I’m guessing we’ll hear something related to physical education and cafeteria menus, as well. (Did someone say “tofu?” Bingo!)


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