Full Text Obama Presidency July 7, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks before Lunch with Teachers Introduces “Excellent Educators for All” for Better Teachers in Poor Schools

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President before Lunch with Teachers

Source: WH, 7-7-14

Blue Room

12:10 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  I am here with some outstanding teachers as well as Secretary Arne Duncan.  And the reason we’re here is with the school year now over, it is a great time for us to focus on what we need to do to make sure that next year and the year after that and the year after continues to improve for students all across this country.

The one ingredient that we know makes an enormous difference is a great teacher, and we have four of the best teachers in the country here.  But what we also know is that there are outstanding teachers all across the country, and Arne, myself, I suspect many of you had wonderful teachers that made all the difference in your lives and allowed you to be excited about learning and set you on a path for an extraordinary career.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of kids around the country who are not getting the kind of teaching that they need — not because there aren’t a whole lot of great potential teachers out there, but because we’re not doing enough to put a lot of our teachers in a position to succeed.  They may not be getting the training they need, they may not be getting the professional development and support that they need in the classroom.  And part of our goal since we came into office, since Arne became Secretary of Education is how do we continue to improve how teachers can get better each and every year.

Of particular concern is the fact that typically the least experienced teachers, the ones with the least support, often end up in the poorest schools.  So we have a problem in which the kids who need the most skilled teachers are the least likely to get them.  And the most talented and skilled teachers oftentimes are teaching the kids who are already the best prepared and have the most resources outside of the school in order to succeed.

So what we’re trying to do today — and Arne is going to have more to say about this this afternoon because we’re hosting a bunch of other teachers who are here in town — is to highlight what we’re calling “Excellent Educators for All.”  It’s going to be a program in which we ask states to take a look at where they’re distributing great teachers, what are they doing in order to train and promote and place teachers in some of the toughest environments for children.  And what we’re also going to be doing is providing technical assistance, highlighting best practices, all with the intention of making sure that wherever a child is, anywhere in the country, they’ve got that opportunity to have somebody in front of the classroom or beside them guiding them, mentoring them, helping them learn.

And when I think about my own experience, the only reason I’m here in the White House is because I had some extraordinary teachers as well as a pretty extraordinary mom and grandparents.  I think everybody sitting around this table probably feels the same way — I suspect that’s part of what inspired some of these people to become teachers.  We want to make sure every child has that access to excellent teachers and we’re very confident that if we can lift up what works, that there are going to be a lot of states that want to adapt to it.

So, unfortunately right now, they don’t necessarily have the information and, as I said, if we do nothing, if we don’t highlight the problem, then inevitably the kids who probably need less help get the most, and the kids who need the most help are getting the least.  That’s something that we’re going to need to reverse not just because it’s good for these kids — we know that if they’ve got a great teacher, they’re more likely to graduate, they’re more likely to go to college, they’re more likely to succeed in their career — it’s also necessary for our economy, because we’ve got too many kids who are trapped in situations in which they’re not able to realize their full potential.

So I want to thank all these folks for being here, and I’m really looking forward to listening to them to find out what they think can be most helpful in promoting excellence in teaching.

Thank you, everybody.

END
12:16 P.M. EDT

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University Musings May 20, 2014: Obama’s review plans to rate and improve teacher education preparation programs

EDUCATION BUZZ

EDUCATION & UNIVERSITY MUSINGS

EDUCATION HEADLINES

Obama’s review plans to rate and improve teacher education preparation programs

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Obama administration is planning on changing and improving university education programs to make graduates more prepared to enter the realities of teaching. President Barack Obama in collaboration with the Department of Education is working to improve teacher education and…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on College Affordability and Student Loan Interest Rates — Urges Congress to Act to Renew Rates

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA VS. CONGRESS OVER STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATE RENEWAL

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on college affordability (June 21, 2012)
President Barack Obama, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, delivers a statement on college affordability and interest rates on student loans, in the East Room of the White House, June 21, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Obama, GOP Clash over Student Loans: President Obama on Thursday demanded that lawmakers act to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1, saying it was “mind-boggling” that the stalemate has lasted this long.
“This should be a no-brainer. It should not be difficult. It should have gotten done weeks ago,” the president told students, parents and educators at the White House. “There’s still 10 days for Congress to do the right thing. I understand that members of both parties say they want to get this done and there are conversations taking place, but they haven’t done it yet. And we’ve got to keep the pressure on.”
Both Republicans and Democrats believe the subsidized Stafford loan rates should not be doubled from the current 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent and agree the current rates should be extended for at least another year. But the sides cannot agree to how to pay for the $6 billion bill…. – ABC News Radio, 6-21-12

  • Obama, GOP Clash over Student Loans: President Obama on Thursday demanded that lawmakers act to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1, saying it was “mind-boggling” that the stalemate has lasted this long…. – WTMA, 6-21-12
  • Obama urges students, parents to pressure Congress on student loans issue: With slightly more than a week left before student loan rates double for millions of Americans on July 1, President Obama on Thursday urged students and their parents to continue to press for congressional action. It was the second time in as many…. – WaPo, 6-21-12
  • Obama urges Congress to stop interest rates on student loans: President Obama is urging Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1, calling it a ‘”no-brainer.” If Congress doesn’t act, interest rates on new loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent come July…. – WaPo, 6-21-12
  • Obama, GOP fight over student loans as young people struggle: The clock is ticking down to the day when new student loan interest rates are expected to double, and President Obama made his latest appeal to Congress today to extend the current low rate. If Congress doesn’t act by July 1, the interest…. – CBS News, 6-21-12
  • Political squabbling over student loans continues: With time running out for Congress to prevent a doubling of interest rates on federal student loans, the White House and Republican leaders exchanged accusations Thursday on who was to blame for the lack of an agreement…. – CNN, 6-21-12
  • Obama accuses GOP of ‘playing chicken’ with loan program: President Obama said today that Republicans are “playing chicken” with a low-interest student loan program, and urged college students to pressure the GOP in advance of a July 1 deadline. “We cannot afford to price the…. – USA Today, 6-21-12
  • Obama’s day: More on student loans: President Obama focuses on the student loan issue. After a series of meetings in the morning, Obama will deliver remarks urging Congress to renew a low interest student loan program…. – USA Today, 6-21-12

President Obama Again Pushes Congress to Act on Student Loans

Source: WH, 6-21-12

Time is running out for Congress to take actions to stop the rates on federal student loans from doubling on July 1.

That’s why President Obama spoke today from the East Room of the White House about the importance of keeping college affordable.

“If Congress does not get this done in a week, the average student with federal student loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt over the coming year,” he said. “If Congress fails to act, more than 7 million students will suddenly be hit with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax hike. And that’s not something that you can afford right now.”

In his remarks, the President also stressed the importance of taking this step for the broader economy. It’s not just that those students will suddenly have less money to spend — it’s that we need to have the best educated workforce in the world, and keeping higher education affordable helps to make that possible.

Remarks by the President on College Affordability

East Room

1:36 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Everybody have a seat.  (Applause.)  Well, it is good to see all of you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you guys back.  (Laughter.)  I have to say, the — I don’t know about the choice of music coming in here, though.  (Laughter.)  I love my Marine Band, but this is kind of a young demographic for the piano cocktail hour.  (Laughter.)

So some of the most fun I’ve had as President is when I get a chance to talk with you, college students, about the importance of earning a higher education in today’s economy.  And I’ll admit that the East Room isn’t as rowdy as Carmichael Arena at UNC, or — we got any UNC folks here in the house?  There we go.  Coors Center at CU Boulder — any — no?  Okay.  (Laughter.)  I have to say that most of you are much more dressed up than usually when I see you in your own natural habitats.  (Laughter.)

But our message today is serious.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  They earn twice as much as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  So whether it’s at a four-year college, or a community college, or a technical program, some form of higher education, something beyond high school has never been more important.  It’s the surest path to finding a good job, earning a good salary, making it into the middle class.

And at the same time, over the last two decades, the cost of college has doubled — it’s actually more than doubled.  And that means — and I don’t have to tell you, because you’re probably tallying it up right now — the cost for you to take out loans has increased, and you are more likely to rack up more debt.  The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $26,000 of debt from their student loans.  Americans as a whole now owe more on student loans than they do on their credit cards.  And that is wrong, because we cannot afford to price the middle class and folks who aspire to go into the middle class, we can’t price them out of the college education market.  We can’t stand by when millions of young people are already saddled with debt just as you’re starting off.

Your parents, your grandparents, oftentimes they were in a position where when they got that first job, the first thing they’re thinking about is, how do I save to buy a home and start a family.  And if you’re already dealing with a big bunch of debt before you even get started, that’s a problem.  And it’s mind-boggling that we’ve had this stalemate in Washington that threatens to make the situation even worse.

So the reason you’re all here, the reason all these fine-looking young people behind me are here is that in just over a week the interest rates on federal student loans are scheduled to double.  I’ve been talking about this now for what — a month and a half, two months, three months, five months — I’ve lost track. (Laughter.)  We’ve been talking about it for a long time.  If Congress does not get this done in a week, the average student with federal student loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt over the coming year.  If Congress fails to act, more than 7 million students will suddenly be hit with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax hike.  And that’s not something that you can afford right now.

Now, as I said, if this warning sounds familiar, we’ve been talking about this for months.  Congress has had the time to fix this for months.  It’s part of the reason why everybody here looks impatient.  (Laughter.)  This issue didn’t come out of nowhere; it’s been looming for months.  But we’ve been stuck watching Congress play chicken with another deadline.  So we’re  nine days away from thousands of American workers having to walk off their job because Congress hasn’t passed a transportation bill.  We’re 10 days away from nearly 7.5 million students seeing their loan rates double because Congress hasn’t acted.  This should be a no-brainer.  It should not be difficult.  It should’ve gotten done weeks ago.

Now, the good news is there are folks in Congress trying to do the right thing.  Last month, Democrats in the Senate put forward a plan that would have kept these rates in place without adding a dime to the deficit.  Unfortunately, Senate Republicans got together and blocked it.  Over in the House, the Republicans said they’d keep these rates down only if we agreed to cut things like preventive health care for women, which obviously wouldn’t fix the problem, but would create a new problem.

This is — even as they were voting in lockstep for an economic plan that would cut financial aid for nine million college students by an average of $1,000 and give a $150,000 tax cut to wealthy Americans.  So I recognize that there’s been some effort to change the subject from this rate hike.

One Congressman warned that this is all about giving college students “free college education” — which doesn’t make much sense, because the definition of a loan is it’s not free — (laughter) — you have to pay it back.  Others have said we’re just talking about student loans to distract from the economy.  That doesn’t make much sense because this is the economy.

This is all about the economy.  This is all about whether or not we are going to have the best-trained, best-educated workforce in the world.  That improves our economy.  And higher education cannot be a luxury reserved just for a privileged few. It’s an economic necessity for every family, and every family should be able to afford it.

So you guys, during this period when you’ve been in college have been some of the toughest economic times since the 1930s,  and there are still a lot of challenges ahead globally.  And we can’t control every economic headwind that we face, but this is something we can control.  This is something we can do something about.  Stopping student rates from doubling at the end of the month is something we can do right now to make a difference in the lives of all the American people.

There’s still 10 days for Congress to do the right thing.  I understand that members of both parties say they want to get this done, and there are conversations taking place, but they haven’t done it yet.  And we’ve got to keep the pressure on.

That’s where all of you come in.  Over the past few months, there are so many students and parents who have been working hard to shine a light on this issue.  You’ve rallied on campuses, in your communities.  You’ve called, you’ve emailed, you’ve tweeted your representatives in Washington.  So you’ve played your part in making sure your voice is heard and your democracy is responsive.

My main message is, as you guys embark on this day of action, I want to make sure you keep this going.  Don’t stop until it’s actually done.  There is nothing more powerful than millions of voices that are calling for change, and all of your voices can make a difference.  So keep telling Congress to do what’s right, to get this done.  Tell them now is not the time to double interest rates on your student loans.  Tell them to double down on an investment in a strong and secure middle class — and that means your education.  Tell them now is the time to double down on an America where everybody who works hard has a fair shot at success.

And for those who are not here and are watching, if you tweet, use the hashtag #dontdoublemyrate — (laughter) — #dontdoublemyrate.  But I tell you, when I look out at this group right here, you give me confidence in America.  You make me optimistic, not only because you’re getting a great education, but also because all of you are participating and making sure that this democracy works the way it’s supposed to.  We need outstanding engineers, and we need outstanding nonprofit leaders, and we need outstanding entrepreneurs, but we also need outstanding citizens.  And that’s what you guys are displaying by your presence and your activities.

So, keep it up.  Let’s get this done.  Thanks, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
1:47 P.M. EDT

Full Text February 9, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Education Reform & No Child Left Behind Flexibility Waivers

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Everything You Need to Know: Waivers, Flexibility, and Reforming No Child Left Behind

Source: WH, 2-9-12

President Obama delivers remarks on No Child Left Behind (February 9, 2012)

President Barack Obama, with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, delivers remarks on education reform and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Explaining that our kids can’t wait any long for Congress to act, President Barack Obama announced today that ten states that have agreed to implement bold education reforms will receive waivers from the burdensome mandates of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.  These waivers will give states the flexibility needed to raise student achievement standards, improve school accountability, and increase teacher effectiveness. The ten states approved for flexibility are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

So what does all this mean for our schools? What’s the problem with No Child Left Behind? What’s a waiver anyway, and why do states need flexibility? To answer these questions, we’ve put together a quick primer to help you understand the details behind today’s announcement.

What’s the deal with No Child Left Behind?

No Child Left Behind, the most current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, was signed into law in 2001—and is five years overdue to be re-written by Congress. The law’s objective was admirable. It shined light on achievement gaps and increased accountability at the school level for high-need students. And there’s no question that setting goals and holding schools accountable for meeting them is central to an education system that prepares students to compete in a global, 21st century economy.

As written, however, No Child Left Behind has serious flaws. In fact, some of the law’s requirements are actually stifling the kind of reforms we need to really improve student achievement, teacher effectiveness, and school accountability. For example, it determines whether schools are falling behind based on test scores. It imposes punitive labels and prescribes one-size-fits-all federal mandates for fixing failing schools.  It’s led states to narrow curriculum to focus more on teaching to the test and less on teaching everything else student need to know, and to lower standards to make them easier to meet

The Obama administration has worked extensively with Congress to re-write the law, and even submitted its own blueprint for education reform in March 2010, but legislators have not moved forward.

What are waivers and what do they have to do with No Child Left Behind?

Waivers provide an opportunity to fix what’s wrong with No Child Left Behind without waiting any longer for Congress to Act. States receiving waivers are given flexibility that exempts them from meeting the law’s most troublesome and restrictive requirements in exchange for setting their own higher, more honest standards for student success.

For example, waivers will give states the flexibility to:

  • Set their own ambitious but achievable terms for closing achievement gaps and ensuring students are proficient in reading and math, instead of meeting the NCLB timeline that requires 100 percent proficiency by 2014. Kentucky, for example, has set a goal to cut the number of underperforming students in half over the next five years.
  • Design their own strategies to improve their lowest-performing schools and measure student progress year over year, instead of relying on absolute numbers and a federally prescribed, “one size fits all” approach. Colorado, for example, another state receiving a waiver, is launching a website that will allow teachers and parents can see exactly how much progress students are making, and how different schools measure up.

Why do states need flexibility?

States need the flexibility to move forward with innovative education reforms they design themselves  —rather than a federal mandate—without sacrificing high standards or lowering accountability. After all, what works for Kentucky doesn’t necessarily work for New Jersey, and the parents and educators who live and work in each place are best-positioned to know the needs of their own communities.

There is still no clear bipartisan path in Congress for ESEA reauthorization – and we can’t wait any longer.  Schools and districts continue their daily work of educating students, while also planning for next school year, and states need this flexibility now to implement plans for reform and improvement.  Today’s announcement continues a process the President announced last September.

The fact is, most states are already pursuing reforms that go above and beyond the requirements in No Child Left Behind, and waivers will help them continue that progress. More than 40 states have adopted common standards that define what it means to be college and career ready, just as many have designed assessments to measure student progress toward achieving those standards. States have reformed teacher and principal evaluations to better determine which ones are effective and which ones aren’t, and developed support systems to help the less effective ones improve.

How did these states qualify for waivers?

President Obama offered every state a deal: If you’re willing to set higher, more honest standards based on a clear goal that every student can graduate ready for college or a career, we’ll give you the flexibility to meet those standards.

In addition to setting new performance targets for student achievement, states had to prove that they were serious by developing a plan addressing three critical areas:

  • Preparing students for college and careers: States must have already adopted college- and career-ready standards in reading and math that raise the achievement of all students, including English language Learners and students with disabilities. Additionally, states must create a plan to help schools and districts implement those standards and administer statewide tests to measure progress.
  • Hold schools accountable for making progress: States must establish an accountability system that recognizes and rewards both high-performing schools as well as those that are making significant gains in improving student achievement.And they must develop targeted strategies to turn around the lowest performing schools and help groups of students with the greatest needs.
  •  Improving teacher and principal effectiveness: States must set guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation and support systems, developed with input from educators and principals. Evaluation systems should assess performance using factors beyond test scores—such as principal observation, peer review, student work, or parent and student feedback—and provide teachers with both constructive advice for improving and support in doing so.

 What’s next?

Just as the administration worked extensively with Congress to try re-write No Child Left Behind before announcing last September that it would offer states flexibility waivers, President Obama will continue to call on Congress to reform the law while offering states that are willing to set higher standards for their students the chance to do so.

In fact, in addition to the 10 states that requested the flexibility to implement reforms through this initial round of waivers, an 11th application is still being revised and reviewed, and 28 other states along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have also expressed interest in receiving waivers.

As President Obama explained this afternoon, “if we’re serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone. Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.”

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on No Child Left Behind Flexibility

President Barack Obama announces that 10 states that have agreed to implement bold education reforms will receive waivers from No Child Left Behind.

President Obama discusses No Child Left Behind
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on education reform, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 2/9/12
East Room

1:57 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Please have a seat, have a seat.  Thank you so much.  Well, hello, everybody, and welcome to the White House.

I want to start by thanking all the chief state school officers who have made the trip from all over the country.  Why don’t you all stand up just so we can see you all, right here.  (Applause.)  It’s a great group, right here.  Thank you.  And I want to recognize someone who is doing a pretty good job right here in Washington, D.C., and that is my Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  Love Arne.  (Applause.)

We’ve also got some outstanding members of Congress who are here who have always been on the front lines when it comes to education reform.  But above all, I want to thank all the teachers who are here today.  Where are the teachers?  Come on, stand up, teachers.  (Applause.)  There you go.  We got some teachers here.

Earlier this week, we hosted our second White House science fair.  Some of you may have seen this on TV.  I got a chance to shoot a marshmallow out of an air cannon, which I don’t usually get to do.  (Laughter.)  But I met these incredibly talented young people — kids who are working on everything from portable housing for disaster victims to technology that can detect smuggled uranium before it became a threat; this young man had built a prototype.  And I asked him how he came up with this idea, and he said, “I’ve always just been really interested in nuclear materials, and I collect samples.”  (Laughter.)  And I asked him, “How does your mom feel about this?”  (Laughter.)  He said she wasn’t that happy about it.

But just unbelievable young people.  It was extraordinary.  And before they left, I gave them some homework.  I told them go find a teacher who helped them make it here and say thank you, because every single one of us can point to a teacher who in some way changed the course of our lives.  I certainly can; I know Arne can.  And the impact is often much bigger than we realize.

One study found that a single good teacher can increase the lifetime earnings of a classroom by $250,000 — single teacher.  A great teacher can help a young person escape poverty, allow them to dream beyond their circumstances.

So teachers matter.  And in an economy where employers are looking for the most skilled, educated workers, few people are going to have a bigger impact on that than the men and women who are in our classrooms.  And that ultimately is why we’re here today.  It’s about our classrooms, and our children, and what’s happening to them and how they can perform.

In September, after waiting far too long for Congress to act, I announced that my administration would take steps to reform No Child Left Behind on our own.  This was one of the first and the biggest “We Can’t Wait” announcements that we’ve made, because our kids and our schools can’t be held back by inaction.

I want to point out, by the way, the members of Congress who are here, they’re ready to act, but we haven’t been able to get the entire House and Senate to move on this.

I said back then the goals of No Child Left Behind were the right ones.  Standards and accountability — those are the right goals.  Closing the achievement gap, that’s a good goal.  That’s the right goal.  We’ve got to stay focused on those goals.  But we’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t force teachers to teach to the test, or encourage schools to lower their standards to avoid being labeled as failures.  That doesn’t help anybody.  It certainly doesn’t help our children in the classroom.

So we determined we need a different approach.  And I’ve always believed that each of us has a role to play when it comes to our children’s education.  As parents, we’ve got a responsibility to make sure homework gets done, but also to instill a love of learning from the very start.  As a nation, we’ve got a responsibility to give our students the resources they need — from the highest-quality schools to the latest textbooks to science labs that actually work.

In return, we should demand better performance.  We should demand reform.  And that was the idea behind Race to the Top.  For less than 1 percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we’ve gotten almost every state in the nation to raise their standards for teaching and learning.  And that’s the first time that’s happened in a generation.

So when it comes to fixing what’s wrong with No Child Left Behind, we’ve offered every state the same deal.  We’ve said, if you’re willing to set higher, more honest standards than the ones that were set by No Child Left Behind, then we’re going to give you the flexibility to meet those standards.  We want high standards, and we’ll give you flexibility in return.  We combine greater freedom with greater accountability.  Because what might work in Minnesota may not work in Kentucky — but every student should have the same opportunity to reach their potential.

So over the last five months, 39 states have told us that they were interested.  Some have already applied.  And today, I am pleased to announce that we are giving 10 states, the first 10 states the green light to continue making the reforms that are best for them.

Each of these states has set higher benchmarks for student achievement.  They’ve come up with ways to evaluate and support teachers fairly, based on more than just a set of test scores.  And along with promoting best practices for all of our children, they’re also going to be focusing on low-income students, and English language learners, and students with disabilities — not just to make sure that those children don’t fall through the cracks, but to make sure they have every opportunity to go as far as their talents will take them.

So Massachusetts, for example, has set a goal to cut the number of underperforming students in half over the next six years.  I like that goal.

Colorado has launched a website that will allow teachers and parents to see exactly how much progress students are making, and how different schools are measuring up.  So nothing creates more accountability than when parents are out there taking a look and seeing what’s going on.

New Jersey is developing an early warning system to reduce the number of dropouts.  Tennessee is creating a statewide school district to aggressively tackle its lowest-performing schools.  And Florida has set a goal to have their test scores rank among the top five states in the country, and the top 10 countries in the world.  I like that ambition.

This is good news for our kids; it’s good news for our country.  And I’m confident that we’re going to see even more states come forward in the months ahead.  Because if we’re serious about helping our children reach their full potential, the best ideas aren’t going to just come from here in Washington.  They’re going to come from cities and towns from all across America.  They’re going to come from teachers and principals and parents.  They’re going to come from you who have a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

And our job is to harness those ideas, to lift up best practices, to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.  That’s how we’re going to make sure that every child in America has the skills and the education they need to compete for the jobs of the future and to be great citizens.  And that’s how we’re going to build an economy that lasts.

So to all the educators who are in the room, thank you for what you do every day.  We are very proud of your efforts.  We know it’s not easy.  We’re proud of you.  And working together, I am absolutely confident that year after year we’re going to see steady improvement.

I told the superintendents that I met backstage before I came out here, this is not a one-year project.  This isn’t a two-year project.  This is going to take some time.  But we can get it done with the kind of determination and the kind of commitment that so many of you have shown.

So I’m proud of you.  I’m proud of Arne Duncan.  Let’s make this happen.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END
2:07 P.M. EST

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