by Brian Washington
President Obama is proving once again that he gets it—recognizing that education plays a crucial role in putting more Americans back to work, rebuilding the economy, and helping middle class families.
During his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, President Obama stated he is fighting for an economy built on manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.
President Obama understands that investing in education now is fundamental to the long-term economic well-being of our children and our nation. For example, during his address, he talked about ending subsidies for big banks and using the savings to help make college more affordable for students.
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel described it as a bold vision that offers both hope and help to Americans.
“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,” said Van Roekel, an Arizona math teacher. “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.”
The State of the Union also stood out with teachers and education support professionals because of one of the guests invited to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama—a third-generation educator and NEA member from Pennsylvania, Sara C. Ferguson.
Ferguson teaches in the Chester Upland School District, where Governor Tom Corbett and state officials told educators that due to budget problems there wouldn’t be enough money to pay them. Ferguson and her colleagues have agreed to defer their salaries as long as their personal finances hold out.
Ferguson said she wants her appearance to represent her students and all the hard-working teachers and education support professionals in our public schools. Following the address last night, Ferguson penned a national blog entry for Huffington Post. She also appeared on national television.