NEA: State of Union Highlights Education

State of the Union shines spotlight on pressing issues facing students, educators and schools  

President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union Address, called for a greater investment in preschool for children, saying all students should have access to high-quality programs. In his  address, Obama also called for greater investment in modern school buildings, as well as rewards for high schools that offer high-tech curricula. In the Republican response to the address, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida called for an increased focus on Advanced Placement courses, vocational training and expanded school choice.

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Educators welcome President Obama’s focus on education and opportunity

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama tonight addressed the nation in the fourth State of the Union address of his presidency. NEA issued the following statement from its president, Dennis Van Roekel:

“President Barack Obama set a strong tone and outlined a common-sense agenda to strengthen the middle class, address issues facing working Americans, and move this country forward with an economy that works for everyone. We agree with the president that making education and students a priority is an economic imperative. The president knows that the road to economic prosperity and helping those aspiring to join the middle class runs directly through our nation’s public schools.

“Education creates opportunity. Investing in early childhood education, making college more affordable and supporting career pathways in community colleges are essential parts of our nation’s unbending commitment to educational excellence. Now is the time to start making smart investments that will benefit students and the nation in the future.

“We are encouraged that the president chose to shine a spotlight on the pressing issues that affect educators and the nation’s students—impending across-the-board budget cuts, gun violence and immigration—during the State of the Union address. These issues have a dramatic impact on our students, our classrooms and America’s future.

“We join the president in calling on Congress to enact sound fiscal policies that create jobs, promote fairness and prosperity, and rebuild the middle class. With the looming March 1 deadline that could trigger across-the-board budget cuts, Congress has to put partisan politics aside and seek a more balanced approach to get our nation’s fiscal house in order without inflicting irreversible harm on our nation’s 50 million students and risking their future—while allowing corporations and the wealthiest to pay their fair share by closing tax loopholes.


“We echo the president’s urgent call to keep our students and their campuses safer. Educators and the nation have grieved too long and too often—for the children killed, their families and the heroic educators who gave their lives trying to protect their students. What our students need is a well-rounded education—in safe and secure campuses—to prepare them to compete in the global economy.

“Educators stand with President Obama and the growing chorus of voices, calling on Congress to create a common-sense immigration process for aspiring Americans, one that includes a roadmap for immigrants to become citizens, allows DREAMers to earn citizenship and unites families. The more than three million educators of the National Education Association stand ready to work with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to help move the president’s agenda forward.” 

The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers

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President Obama Lays Out Bold Blueprint to Strengthen Our Nation

'America's future depends on our investment in our people and in our nation,' says AFT President Randi Weingarten


Washington—Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on President Obama's State of the Union address. 

"America's future depends on our investment in our people and in our nation. The vision the president laid out will help strengthen and expand our middle class today and will lay the foundation for future growth and shared prosperity tomorrow.

"President Obama laid out a bold blueprint to strengthen our nation by making sure EVERY child has access to high-quality early childhood education programs, by expanding high school opportunities to be more hands on and more focused on thinking, rather than testing, like the P-Tech High School in Brooklyn, and by making college more affordable and accessible, including expanding opportunities to DREAMERs. But it's not just about children—it's about their parents too. The president offered tangible proposals to create good jobs, rebuild and upgrade our aging infrastructure, and ramp up job training to keep our compact with hardworking Americans in a rapidly changing economy. America is strongest when we live up to our shared responsibility to invest in our people and our nation, confront challenges with common resolve and expand opportunity for all who call our nation home.

 "The president tonight reminded us that as a nation of immigrants, we must live up to our values of democracy and opportunity by ensuring a pathway to citizenship for hardworking immigrants who call our nation home. And he offered a clarion call for voting rights, equality under law, whether gay or straight, and economic and other protections for women to make real the promise of equality in America. Our love of freedom also demands that we do everything in our power to keep our citizens safe from gun violence in our schools and communities while ensuring the sanctity of the Second Amendment. And we will fight to make sure gun safety measures get the votes they deserve. We were reminded of that solemn commitment tonight by the presence of Sandy Hook teachers Kaitlin Roig and Natalie Hammond. 

"As a democracy, our destiny as a nation is in our hands—for we are the people. We cannot cut our way to shared prosperity and opportunity. President Obama has laid out his vision to ensure that all Americans have a clear path to the American dream. It is now time for Congress to act."

The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.


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The American Federation of Teachers joined with other members of the International Labor Recruitment Working Group coalition today to release a report detailing abusive and exploitative practices by those who recruit immigrant workers for jobs in the United States. The report calls for a comprehensive immigration reform plan to include measures to protect the rights of those who come here under various work visa programs. AFT President Says Immigration Reform Must Address Recruiting Abuses

The American Dream Up for Sale: A Blueprint for Ending International Labor Recruitment Abuse

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