In his fifth State of the Union address last night, President Obama continued his well established focus on the transformative nature of education and its ability to improve the nation’s economy and people’s lives, with a call for better job training programs, investments in research, and “concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education.”
However, as Inside Higher Ed pointed out this morning, it was a speech “generally devoid of dramatic new initiatives” that did not push for any significant new legislation or executive action on these issues.
On job training, the president announced that the White House would launch six new hubs for high-tech manufacturing similar to those recently started in Raleigh, NC, and Youngstown, Ohio, where businesses are connected to research universities.
He also has asked the Vice President Joe Biden to lead a reform effort for the country’s job training programs, which will likely have a strong community college component. Biden and his wife Jill Biden, who teaches at Northern Virginia Community College, will appear at Monroe Community College today to speak about workforce development.
On the research front, the president called on Congress to “undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery,” and urged the passage of “a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation.”
He made brief mention of two of his administration’s ongoing efforts—improving college access for low-income students and “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.” But he did not discuss either effort in detail.
White House Fact Sheet on State of the Union
Obama Puts Focus on Job Growth and Training Programs
The Chronicle of Higher Education (Jan. 29, 2014)
Obama Vows to Improve Education at All Levels
The Associated Press (ABC News) (Jan. 29, 2014)
Inside The State Of The Union: What The President Proposed
NPR (Jan. 29, 2014)
Obama on Education: Rhetoric vs. Reality
The Washington Post (sub. req.) (Jan. 29, 2014)