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Education Related Parts of US President Obama's State of the Union 2014 Speech

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Education Related Parts of US President Obama's State of the Union 2014 Speech

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Given below are extracts related to education from US president Obama's State of the Union 2014 address,, and comments:

[Please note that the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license does NOT apply to this post.]

  • "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." [Ravi: This is the first sentence of his speech (after mentioning the persons the speech is addressed to). That shows how much importance the US president gives to teaching.]

  • "Taking a page from that playbook, the White House just organized a College Opportunity Summit where already, 150 universities, businesses, and nonprofits have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education – and help every hardworking kid go to college and succeed when they get to campus."

  • "We know where to start: the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job."[Ravi: I gave this extract as later on we see the importance given to education and training to make a person/student ready for that "good job".]

  • "We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs.  My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh and Youngstown, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies.  Tonight, I’m announcing we’ll launch six more this year.  Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create.  So get those bills to my desk and put more Americans back to work." [Ravi: The link between research universities and the high-tech economy is clearly recognized by the US president.]

  • "We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow.  This is an edge America cannot surrender.  Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones.  That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery – whether it’s vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria, or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel.  And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation." [Ravi: No wonder governments are willing to provide lot of funds for hi-tech. research that delivers on innovative tech. that the world (market) needs.]

  • "The ideas I’ve outlined so far can speed up growth and create more jobs.  But in this rapidly-changing economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs.

The good news is, we know how to do it.  Two years ago, as the auto industry came roaring back, Andra Rush opened up a manufacturing firm in Detroit.  She knew that Ford needed parts for the best-selling truck in America, and she knew how to make them.  She just needed the workforce.  So she dialed up what we call an American Job Center – places where folks can walk in to get the help or training they need to find a new job, or better job.  She was flooded with new workers.  And today, Detroit Manufacturing Systems has more than 700 employees.

What Andra and her employees experienced is how it should be for every employer – and every job seeker.  So tonight, I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.  That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life.  It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs.  And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs."

[Ravi: Clear focus on providing specific training/education to meet jobs available in industry. And the mention of community college in that context. I think India needs a good vocational training/education setup which offers a 2 year community college diploma/degree equivalent to students passing out of XIIth standard (which I think is equivalent to K-12 of the US). Can Information Technology education focusing on non-critical (IT) applications development be one area for such educaton/training? I don't know enough of vocational education in India to be able to answer the question but I think it is worth thinking about.]

  • "Five years ago, we set out to change the odds for all our kids.  We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.  Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance.  Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math.  Some of this change is hard.  It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test.  But it’s worth it – and it’s working." [Ravi: Full marks to the US government for trying to fix the problem. It would be so great if top Indian education policy makers also speak up publicly on such matters instead of it being a closed door and opaque license-raj education policy-making setup.]

  • "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. But in the meantime, thirty states have raised pre-k funding on their own.  They know we can’t wait.  So just as we worked with states to reform our schools, this year, we’ll invest in new partnerships with states and communities across the country in a race to the top for our youngest children.  And as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need."

  • "Last year, I also pledged to connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over the next four years.  Tonight, I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and twenty million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit." [Ravi: Awesome contribution by US companies - without adding a dime to the deficit!]

  • "We’re working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career.  We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education." [Ravi: Terrific!!!]

  • "We’re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to ten percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt.  And I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential."


Ravi: It is so wonderful to see the top boss of a country, in a yearly stock-taking and future-direction address, give so much importance to education, and have a clear focus on education that imparts the skills the youth need in these job-wise challenging times. In contrast, in India, most of what I read about speeches made by top ministers and education policy makers is about research. I don't recall coming across any speech in recent times by any top Indian higher education policy maker about teaching Indian students useful skills that will help them get a decent job!

BTW I saw the video of the speech as well. If you would like to do so here's the youtube video link I viewed,, 1 hr. 29 min. 07 sec.

Friday, December 27, 2013

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