State of the Union wrap-up: Opportunity for all begins with education

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Colleen Flaherty

President Obama began last night’s State of the Union address stressing the importance of our nation’s educators.

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“Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.”

The all-encompassing theme of the State of the Union—providing opportunities for all Americans—starts with investing and supporting public education, said Dennis Van Roekel, NEA President and Arizona teacher.

“For me as an educator, the path to economic security for all begins in the classroom,” said Van Roekel. “[President Obama] didn’t say a whole lot about education, but what he did say was important.”

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Obama outlined some of his ongoing education priorities meant to help the most vulnerable in our nation’s schools, including ConnectEd, an initiative to bring high-speed broadband to all schools, redesigning high schools to include more job training and another push for universal early childhood education.

“Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every four year-old. As a parent as well as a President, I repeat that request tonight.”

The president went on to stress policies—such as raising the minimum wage and accessible health care—that will reduce inequality and create opportunities, especially for children and families.

The bottom line is, Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us.  But we know our opportunity agenda won’t be complete – and too many young people entering the workforce today will see the American Dream as an empty promise – unless we do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.

In a video response to the State of the Union, Van Roekel stressed to the president to remember what is most important in the fight for opportunity for all citizens.

“Opportunity can’t happen if all children and adults are not provided with a solid education, regardless of where you live or your economic status.”

Now that the State of the Union is over, let us know what issues matter most to you!

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