An America Built to Last

Last night President Obama unveiled a new blueprint for an America Built to Last, that gives hard-working, responsible Americans a fair shot. Education plays a key role in the President’s Blueprint, and includes the following details:

    • Forge new partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train and place 2 million skilled workers.
    • Reform job training and Unemployment Insurance to help put more Americans back to work.
    • Keep students in high school by calling on every state to do what 20 states have already done: require students to stay in school until they graduate or turn 18.

Attract, prepare, support, and reward great teachers to help students learn:

The President is asking for a new competitive program that will challenge states and districts to work with their teachers and unions to transform the teaching profession by:

    • Reforming colleges of education and making these schools more selective;
    • Creating new career ladders for teachers to become more effective, and ensuring that earnings are tied more closely to performance;
    • Establishing more leadership roles and responsibilities for teachers in running schools; improving professional development and time for collaboration among teachers; and providing greater individual and collective autonomy in the classroom in exchange for greater accountability;
    • Creating evaluation systems based on multiple measures, rather than just test scores;
    • Re-shaping tenure to raise the bar, protect good teachers, and promote accountability.

Take steps to hold down college costs for middle-class families: 

The President called on Congress to help keep college costs within reach for middle-class families by:

    • Keeping tuition from spiraling too high: The President is proposing to shift some Federal aid away from colleges that don’t keep net tuition down and provide good value.
    • Preventing student loan interest rates from doubling: The President called on Congress to stop the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling on July 1 of this year, so young people don’t have as much debt to repay.
    • Doubling the number of work-study jobs: The President wants to reward students who are willing to work hard by doubling over five years the number of work-study jobs for college students who agree to work their way through school.
    • Permanently extending tuition tax breaks that provide up to $10,000 for four years of college: The President is proposing to make the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent, maintaining a tax cut that provides up to $10,000 for tuition over four years of college.

Read the entire Blueprint for An America Built to Last (pdf).


  1. As a principal I am forced to retire this year because if I don’t the State I live in will change my pension after I have put in 38 years. This same State has change the pensions for all new teachers, thus forcing them to work more years for a decreased pension. I WOULD NOT GO INTO EDUCATION TODAY. I have two masters degrees & a doctorate in education. The next generation of sharp, articulate, caring potential teachers will find a different career. My State has one governor in jail and another going but, they can’t full fund pensions since the 1980’s and then they blame the educators for their underfunding.

    I fear for our future students since the best & the brightest will NOT be teaching the next generation, they will go where the money and the satisfaction will be, the business world. Education will be filled by the C+ student in college. As a principal it takes 250 resumes to find two Generation X candidates with baby boomer work ethics that will put in the time to leave “No Child Left Behind”!

  2. I share the President’s concern over the cost of a college education, but am contacting this office to complain about a major impediment to college education. The NCAA has seen fit to fine and place the University of Nebraska on 2 years probation for providing scholarship athletes with texts on the recommended reading list rather than only the minimum number of required texts. I applaud Nebraska for placing the education of scholarship athletes above the minimum level. In my consideration it is the NCAA that should be placed on probation, for devaluing the education that scholarship athletes receive.

    I would appreciate if this is brought to the President’s attention.


  3. Students, actually, all people should be the masters of their own universe, not government. Our road ahead seems crystal clear to me. Approximately 75% of all jobs are in the US are in the industrial technical / labor /services filed, i.e. diesel mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, nurses and assembly line workers. The massive disconnect between current education curriculum, (secondary and post-secondary) and the actual necessary job market skill objectives is something we can fix quickly by setting up every program in school with an industry partnership advisory committee.

    I work at a technical college. We have about 25 industry partnerships here on campus. The industry partners are from a wide cross section of US industry. They recruit, interview and then may hire the students as part time employees. The students rotate from industry to school every two months throughout their college careers. The industry partners also find and or approve their own faculty. There are basically no funding issues with these programs. It’s how all education should be conducted in the US.

    First of all US Government is too easy to hoodwink. They should never metal in affairs that are on a personal level. Children should pick three career paths they would like to follow. Their individual curriculum should be adjusted to these paths, (most will intersect at some point). The child can change his or her career path at any time. However, they may have to add additional competencies to their educational ladder. When I was working part time in high school as an auto mechanic, virtually none of my curriculum ever turned up.

    Our current educational system is still based on subjects that don’t translate into the world of work.

  4. Docs comments above are supported by the data collected by PISA regarding international student test scores.

    The highest scoring students in the ten top performing nations (including the provinces of Alberta and Ontario in Canada) had parents who read to their children 7- 4 times per week starting at an early age, were involved with homework, and frequently inquired about how students day went at school.

    Lowest performing students in my inner city classroom never had their parents read to them (I know because I asked), rarely do their homework (because they have no one checking up on them, again I know because I ask), and their parents don’t ask about their day (yep, I’ve asked).

    In addition, the study cited that top performing nations such as Korea and China had much shorter hours of teacher / student interaction – 600 to 700 hours per day. Additional hours spent by teachers at school were spent with each other planning curriculum and lessons as well as discussing and targeting instruction for students.

    Luckily, I married a Canadian and had the opportunity to work in Alberta just after teacher training in the U.S. Returning to teach in Chicago in 2002, I was amazed how badly District 299 was run, dismayed at the lack of materials available at my school for use teaching Arnie Duncan’s mandated 4 Block literacy program, and flabbergasted at what passed as professional development city-wide.

    It behooves the U.S. government to look at the how, not just the what, of education in the highest performing countries. Like Canada, in other countries you would find educators running school districts and ministries of education NOT politicians, publishers, and idealogical conflicts. In few nations do educational mandates fluctuate according to how the political wind blows – this is part of U.S. exceptionalism.

    Growing up in the states I had an exceptional education and I know there are children today receiving the same. Too bad NCLB test data, standardized and otherwise, are being used to determine the state of education today when deep diving into the statistics shows otherwise.

  5. For a greater accomplishment in the Educational Sector all the stake holders;Parents,GOVERNMENT and Teachers must work hand in hand in other to smoothly achieve the goals of Education.Even the renummmeration of Teachers must be up graded.

  6. Perhaps the federal government has overstepped its authority in establishing mandates in education for the states (and failing to fund such mandates). Education is first, a home, second, community, third, state and lastly, federal concern. There’s much to be learned from other nations with stronger education systems. In Asia, for instance, students and parents are responsible for learning and teachers are responsible for opening doors to information and skills. Current US models attempt to fix education after it has already gone south.

    The fix is at home. The solution is concerned parents who supply basic needs, safety, a sense of belonging and self-esteem. This happens in the interval between birth and entering school. Children who have had the benefit of such parenting typically arrive at school curious, ready to learn and primed for success.

    Sadly, a key problem is unwanted pregnancies and young parents who reject the consequences of their actions. Poverty seems to walk hand-in-hand with absentee parents and unwanted or unplanned-for children. These children are the ones who pay for their parent’s mistakes and inability to take responsibility for their actions.

    If the federal government wants to help in education, start sooner. The first five years of life put children on a path to success or failure.

    • Right on!!!!

      Why are teachers being held accountable for students who sit and do nothing, never turning in assignments, homework, library books? It is high time we start making students and parents accountable.

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