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Obama's 2012 State of the Union Speech

From our friends at the National College Access Network:

President Obama delivered his third State of the Union speech last night, lasting one hour and five minutes. According to a tweet from Politico, the #SOTU topics in order of popularity during and immediately following the speech last night were: 1. Education 2. Energy 3. Taxes 4. Jobs 5. Defense.

The overall theme was “Blueprint for an America Built to Last.” The White House talking points and summary of the speech are attached in the PDF. Also, you can watch an “enhanced” version of the speech on the White House website. This version includes facts and graphs coinciding with the President’s comments. http://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2012

NCAN SOTU College Access and Success Related Summary:

Specifically for education, the President addressed the need to have workers whose skills match the jobs that are available and the “daunting challenge of the cost of college.” President Obama’s  proposals in the SOTU regarding the cost of college include:

  • Asking Congress to stop the interest rates on federal student loans for doubling in July,
  • Extending the tuition tax credit that saves millions of middle class families thousands of dollars, and
  • Doubling the number of work study jobs in the next five years.


In addition, President Obama said that the federal government can not continue to keep subsidizing sky rocketing tuition. The President’s requests to control rising tuition include:

  • Asking states do their part by making colleges a higher priority in their budgets, and
  • Asking colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down colleges.

The President also said he was putting colleges and universities “on notice” that if they can’t keep tuition from going up, the funding they receive from tax payers will go down.

Mr. Obama concluded his education portion of the speech by saying that, “higher education can’t be a luxury; it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”


Other Areas of Interest:

The President also touched on immigration. He said that his administration has become tougher on illegal immigration at the border, but that children brought here when they were small are American through and through. He called for Congress to send him a bill that would provide a pathway for these young people to earn their citizenship through education or military service. He also called for a bill for students who study here from abroad to be given a pathway to stay, rather going back to their home countries to create new ideas and products. He did not specifically use the phrase “DREAM Act.”

One of the final topics of the President’s speech was the deficit and taxes. During this portion of the speech, Mr. Obama said that we must make a choice between continuing what was supposed to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2% of Americans or keeping “our investments in everything else like education and medical research, a strong military and care for our veterans.”

Republican Response:

Governor Mitch Daniels of IN offered the Republican Response. You can watch and read it by clicking here. Governor Daniels commends the President for making overdue changes in public education, but does not address higher education specifically. Please note this is posted on the NBC Politics blog so any views expressed in the comments do not reflect those of NCAN.

Rep John Kline, Chair of the Education and Workforce Committee, offered his own response, which only touched on No Child Left Behind and no other education issues, is available here.