ABOVE PHOTO: President Barack Obama meets with Members of Congress on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 10, 2011. Talking with the President, from left, are: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Rep. John Kline, R-Minn.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama delivered remarks to the National Governors Association (NGA) where he challenged governors across the nation to do their part to ensure American students and workers have the education and training they need so that we have a workforce prepared for the jobs of the 21st century. The President believes that in order to create an economy that’s built to last, we must invest in education and provide every American the opportunity to develop the skills needed to compete for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
“Nothing more clearly signals what you value as a state as the decisions you make about where to invest,” President Obama told governors. “Budgets are about choices, so today I’m calling on you to choose to invest more in teachers, invest more in education, and invest more in our children and their future.”
The White House released an Education Blueprint: An Economy Built to Last. In addition to documenting the Administration’s education efforts, the report shows that last year, more than 40 states cut higher education spending; these state budget cuts have been the largest factor in tuition increases at public colleges over the past decade. It also finds that the majority of states provided less funding for elementary and secondary schools in 2012 than in 2011.
As the report notes, over the past 23 months, American businesses have created 3.7 million jobs and last year businesses added the most private sector jobs since 2005. American manufacturing is creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. The strength of the American economy is inextricably linked to the strength of America’s education system. Particularly in times of economic challenge – times like today – the American economy needs a workforce that is skilled, adaptable, creative, and equipped for success in the global marketplace.
The President believes that educating our way to an economy built to last requires shared commitment. In addition to challenging governors to do their part, the President asked them to keep up pressure on Congress to pass his proposal to prevent further layoffs and rehire teachers who had lost their jobs. Additionally, the President will continue to urge Congress to take critical measures to make college more affordable, including preventing student loan interest rates from doubling this summer, making the American Opportunity Tax Credit he signed—worth up to $10,000 to help families cover the cost of tuition—permanent, securing funding for Pell Grants, and taking steps to double the number of work-study jobs over the next 5 years to better assist college students who are working their way through school.
In addition to these important measures, the President believes we must make critical investments in our nation’s education system. He has proposed funding to promote partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train 2 million workers, to continue giving states, districts and schools the funding and flexibility they need to put a great teacher in every classroom and build on the successes of the Race to the Top program, to improve early childhood education, and to create incentives for innovative reforms to keep college affordable.
The President believes this is a make or break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it. In order to create an economy that’s built to last — where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone pays their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules — we must make critical investments in our students and workers and build a foundation to compete for the jobs of the 21st century.