Obama: An Economy 'Built to Last' Must Work for All Americans

President Barack Obama delivered his third State of the Union Address to the nation before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, laying out a blueprint for an economy that’s “built to last” – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.The president said the nation can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well but most Americans barely get by, or build a nation where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel praised the president’s vision and his roadmap to put more Americans back to work, rebuild the economy and help middle class families get back on their feet. The president again pledged to continue making education a top domestic priority in his administration.

“President Obama’s bold vision offers both hope and help to Americans,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “He has an ambitious plan to lead the country and provide more hope for middle class families. He understands that investing in education now and opening opportunities to all students are fundamental to the long-term economic well-being of our children and our nation.”

The president’s remarks come at a time when policymakers in Washington, D.C. and in many state capitols are sharply divided and pushing starkly different visions of the path to economic recovery and prosperity. In many cases, politicians are balancing their budgets on the backs of students and educators for the sake of scoring political points.

Case in point: In Pennsylvania, Chester Upland School District officials recently told educators that there wouldn’t be enough money to pay them. Teachers and support staff agreed to continue working as long as they were personally able to make ends meet. President Obama acknowledged the ongoing situation in this school district and invited Sara C. Ferguson, an elementary math and literary teacher, to attend the State of the Union address.

“President Obama understands what’s at stake in communities across the country,” continued Van Roekel. “Americans like Sara Ferguson, a third generation educator, are counting on the president to finish the job they elected him to do almost four years ago—to make the tough choices and, more importantly, the right decisions to tackle the big issues and get Americans back to work. He is willing to lead the country in rebuilding an economy that rewards hard work and works for all Americans—not just a chosen few.”

“We appreciate the president’s call to support teachers and to stop teaching to the test,” said Van Roekel. “Teachers and educators are eager to work with the Obama administration on ideas to strengthen the profession of teaching and help all students succeed.”

The president’s plan builds on his recent accomplishments such as ending subsidies for big banks and using the savings to help more students afford college, helping three million more students pay for college with Pell Grants, prioritizing resources for our schools, and increasing job-training opportunities for long-term unemployed and veterans. His plan also leverages the traditional role that the federal government has had in promoting a more prosperous and equitable society and on making sure families don’t fall through the cracks.

“We welcome the president’s efforts to put opportunity within reach of more Americans by strengthening and building the capacity of higher education and career and technical education so students can find good jobs and pursue their dreams,” Van Roekel said. “NEA is committed to the success of all students and ensuring that education remains the engine that moves America forward. We look forward to working with President Obama and Congress to enact an agenda as bold as the challenges facing Americans.”

  • Wayne Decker

    I enjoyed the telefone town hall. Thank you for the opportunity. I promissed that I’d send in comments that you could share with President–so here goes.

    Dear President Oboma.

    Thank you for saying that we had to get away from “teaching to the test.” We must stop trying to find a one size fits all way to measure and to eduactional results. This is not a popular idea with the test publisher lobby I’m sure. As long as the high stakes testing provisions of NCLB and the even more draconian RRRT remain as the primary tools that schools must use to prove that we are doing the work, and the financial insentives and santions remaine in effect–that’s all that most Ed. administrators will see as priorities. That’s were they will put their budget priorities. That’s what we weill be expect and allowed to do. Forget sharing the excitment we felt for learning once apon a time. Forget “teaching the whole child”. We will have to teach them to pass tests–not to be human beings.

    In my district, anything that isn’t tested–no longer gets funded. The net result is kids being inexorable turn off. There is no time for fun or joy. No time to be passionate about a persuit that isn’t measuable with a bubble sheet.

    I’m probably retiring soon. I had planned to stay in my classroom until they carried me out in pine box. But, sadly, the fun, the excitment, the wonder–is gone.

    This simply must stop.

    Thank you for all you do for us.

    Wayne Decker
    Bishop CA

  • Greg Weiss

    My take on the followup tele-townhall, as first posted on educationvotes.org:


    If we–teachers, NEA, President Obama… are going to enact real, lasting, productive change in our schools, it will not be because we cling to inherently flawed soundbyte driven models or sincere but hollow platitudes. Anything else is merely feeding the decline.