President Obama on Saturday laid out his vision for the future success of American children and it involves “giving every child, everywhere, a fair shot.”
While the president was pleased to announce that high school graduation rates are at an all-time high and elementary school children are breaking math and reading records, he wants to do more to ensure that today’s kids are educated more effectively than earlier generations.
“A core element of this middle-class economics is how well we prepare our kids for the future,” Obama said. He added, “In a 21st century economy, our kids will only do better than we did if we educate them better than we were educated. So we have to do more to make sure they graduate from school fully prepared for college and a career.”
The first step in Obama’s plan is replacing No Child Left Behind with a new and smarter law that would address the overuse of standardized tests, make “real” investments in preschool, and thereby give a “fair shot” to all children in “the new economy.”
The president criticized a Republican education bill that is currently before Congress and implied that his own commonsense plan would “actually improve education.” Obama said their bill would “lock in cuts” to schools for the next 10 years and instead turn that education money over to the rich and wealthy in the form of tax cuts, or set aside to be used in pet projects like building sports arenas.
“Denying a quality education to the children of working families is as wrong as denying health care or child care to working families,” the president said. “We are better than this.”
Obama explained that he has “a different vision for the middle class:”
In today’s world, we have to equip all our kids with an education that prepares them for success, regardless of what they look like, or how much their parents make, or the zip code they live in.
That means cutting testing down to the bare minimum required to make sure parents and teachers know how our kids and schools are doing from year to year, and relative to schools statewide.
That means giving the teachers and principals who do the hard work every day the resources they need to spend less time teaching to a test, and more time teaching our kids the skills they need.
These changes, Obama warned, won’t be easy and the children of America are going to have to “put down the video games and iPhones, and pick up the books.” But the president is confident: “[W]e are not a collection of states competing against one another; we are a nation competing against the world. Nothing will determine our success as a nation in the 21st century more than how well we educate our kids. And we shouldn’t accept anything less than the best.”
Obama then concluded:
Thanks, and before I go – Happy Valentine’s Day, Michelle.