During his speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, President Barack Obama accepted his party’s nomination to run for president and hopefully take on another four years. Among the topics he covered were weighty issues like the economy, the national debt, battling environmental pollution, medicare, and taxes. He also gave his views and ideas on education and how it should be strengthened.
Obama was optimistic about the state of education in America, saying that some of the country’s worst schools have improved their math and reading scores, and that nearly every state has committed to raising their teaching and learning standards. He spoke to concerns about college tuition, bringing up more than once his commitment to keeping rates low.
“Education was the gateway to opportunity for me. It was the gateway for Michelle. And now more than ever, it is the gateway to a middle-class life,” Obama said in his speech.
The president gave several specific goals for raising the bar with education. For college students, he asked his fellow Democrats’ help in putting two million students into community colleges that will guarantee them a job once they leave. He also wants to cut the growth of the cost of tuition at colleges and universities in half over the next decade.
“No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money. No company should have to look for workers in China because they couldn’t find any with the right skills here at home,” said Obama.
Obama also addressed early childhood education. He proposed to recruit 100,000 math and science teachers in the next decade to help improve scores in those areas.
“We believe that a little girl who’s offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become the founder of the next Google, or the scientist who cures cancer, or the President of the United States – and it’s in our power to give her that chance,” Obama said.
Obama praised the work done to reduce tuition costs by streamlining the student loan lending process, and said that more students are getting the chance to achieve their dreams because of it. He asked for his constituents to work with him again to build up education for the future.
“Now you have a choice – we can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school,” Obama said. “You can choose a future where more Americans have the chance to gain the skills they need to compete, no matter how old they are or how much money they have.”
Obama’s goals seem attainable, but are they enough? He spoke to the fact that government cannot do all the work, and that great teachers, principals, and of course, the students, must also do the hard work of making education a priority.
His idea of how that should be done puts education at the forefront of the presidential campaign and once again brings up the complicated issue of why education in America lags behind so many other countries. Voters will soon decide in November how much they believe in Obama’s decisions and promises for education.